Tortoise not eating in the summer

Kale

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Hi guys,

This has been going on honestly for years now but I feel like I finally want an answer. I have had my Russian tortoise Griswold for almost 7 years now and in general he seems to be doing as well as I can tell from a tortoise's demeanor. His shell is round and his eyes and bright and alert.

Now, in the winter he eats less and tries to dig a hole and hibernate. That makes sense and I don't have questions about that. He'll sometimes not eat or barely eat during this time for two months but he seems healthy so I've let that be. The warm part of his enclosure during this time is 25-27 C (~77 F) but I think it's just the amount of actual sunlight that he can sense and knows it's winter.

But why does he also do something similar in the summer? At this time the temperature is closer to 34 C (~95 F) which I'm told is just what the warm part should be but every time I put him there to eat his food, he just looks for 5 seconds, and then walks to the cold part of his enclosure and goes to sleep. Shouldn't he be more active and eating in the summer? At first I wanted to leave the lightbulb on so he would experience summer and not get confused but this morning it was clearly on track to hit 36-37 so I just turned it off. His diet is mostly dandelion greens and pellets. I'll sometimes add other types of dried tortoise food that has yams and such. I'm trying swiss chard but he sticks his nose at it. I think maybe I'll pick up romaine lettuce from the store next time I'm there just because I don't think it's healthy for him to eat dandelions for three years.

Otherwise I'm very happy he's made it seven years. I suspect he's around 11 or 12 actually, but that's mostly guessing. This community has definitely helped.

PS: I saw a post that mentioned husbandry as a part of the site. Is there a section I can fill out so I don't have to describe him every time?
 

Kale

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Ah, sorry. I am located in Boston so the winter gets cold and the summer gets humid. The enclosure is inside. I should attach a picture. IMG 20200520 164909996
 

KarenSoCal

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In the wild, in the hot summer, sometimes tortoises do something similar to brumating (hibernating). To escape the heat, they go into their burrow and go to sleep, and their heart rate and breathing slow to conserve energy. This is called aestivating.

I don't know if Russians typically do this or not, but I think it could be a factor.

It would be nice if you would edit your profile to include where you are. It makes it easier to give pertinent answers.

The little house is so cute! I'm sure your tortoise loves it too!
 

Blackdog1714

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My Russian had his periods during the day mostly early or late where he will walk and graze even soak in his water. The rest of the day he lounges in his Tigloo that I added a 2” layer of pink foam over so it is even cooler in summer.
 

Kale

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Tried to add my location and I believe it worked. If not, Boston MA. Thank you all for the replies. He has currently lost somewhere around 10% of his weight in the summer but... it is unusually hot right now and that's how much he lost in the winter before snapping back and eating a lot so I'm not super worried. Worried enough to post though, evidently.
 

Kale

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WELL, it turns out if you turn off the light and let the temperature fall to 30 C (86 F), he just starts happily munching away. So that solves that problem. Hopefully this thread helps others.

Yeah, I keep hearing the upper range of your enclosure should be 100 F but wow has that not been my experience.
 

method89

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well, his basking spot should be 90-100. his ambient temp should be @80-85. as you have found out yourself, they like to warm up but not all the time.
 

Maro2Bear

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Good you found the probable cause.... looks like you had things way too hot. The basking spot should be hot, but the rest of your enclosure cooler. Note the night temps in the 60’s.

From Tom’s guide on Russians...

Heating and lighting:
If your tortoise gets regular sunshine for most of the year, you do not need any artificial indoor UV. An hour outside a couple of times a week is enough to meet their UV needs, but more is better. If your tortoise must live inside all the time, then I recommend long tube style florescent UV lights or mercury vapor bulbs. No reason you can't use both. Since my Russians do get sunshine all year, I just use 65 watt incandescent flood bulbs from the hardware store to meet my heating needs. I hang my fixture over one end of the enclosure and raise or lower it to get a basking spot of around 100. I hang my lights over a flat piece of slate or sandstone, which spreads the heat out a bit and allows them to get some safe belly heat while they bask. This can be used in conjunction with a long florescent UV tube, if needed. I don't use any other heat for Russians, and I let the temperature of the rest of the enclosure fade to room temp away from the single heat source. In most cases night heat for Russians is not necessary. Night temps in the 60s are fine as long as they can warm up the next day. If your Russian is trying to hibernate as fall approaches and you don't want it to, upping your temps (including the night temps), lengthening the days on your light timer and brightening the enclosure with more lights, are all ways to help convince them to stay up. For most Russian tortoises of any age, its really that simple. Put a 95-100 degree basking spot on one end for 12-14 hours a day and that's it.
 
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