Tortoise woke from hibernation then died

Jay's Turbo

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Jan 12, 2021
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UK
Hi,
Our tortoise, Turbo was brought ot of hibernation today. He was 4 years old and this is the second year that we hibernated him. We used the fridge method and followed everything we could find on how to hiberate and wake him. We took him out of the fridge this morning and he had half an hour at room temperature before being placed in a lake warm bath. He was responding and seemed happy to see us. After his bath we placed him in his indoor enclosure (where he lives) and he was looking around. We placed food in helps bowl which he showed no interest in, though weren't concerned as we know it can take a couple of days for them to start eating again. He was looking up when we called him and we were relieved all seemed to have gone well. At around 4.30pm (around 6 hours after he'd woken) my husband noticed something was wrong. Turbo looked asleep though his legs were out of his shell and when we touched them he didn't respond. It appears Turbo is dead and we have no idea what we have done wrong. Does anyone have any answers? We've left him in his tank for his last night in some ridiculous hope that we might wake up tomorrow to see he's ok, though we're fairly sure he's left us. :'(
 

Freddy90

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Apr 30, 2020
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Austria
Hi,
Our tortoise, Turbo was brought ot of hibernation today. He was 4 years old and this is the second year that we hibernated him. We used the fridge method and followed everything we could find on how to hiberate and wake him. We took him out of the fridge this morning and he had half an hour at room temperature before being placed in a lake warm bath. He was responding and seemed happy to see us. After his bath we placed him in his indoor enclosure (where he lives) and he was looking around. We placed food in helps bowl which he showed no interest in, though weren't concerned as we know it can take a couple of days for them to start eating again. He was looking up when we called him and we were relieved all seemed to have gone well. At around 4.30pm (around 6 hours after he'd woken) my husband noticed something was wrong. Turbo looked asleep though his legs were out of his shell and when we touched them he didn't respond. It appears Turbo is dead and we have no idea what we have done wrong. Does anyone have any answers? We've left him in his tank for his last night in some ridiculous hope that we might wake up tomorrow to see he's ok, though we're fairly sure he's left us. :'(
Sorry for ur loss.
I'm not an expert on hibernation or brumation but I'm currently hibernating my spotted turtle also in the fridge.
Maybe he got temperature shocked? From the fridge directly to room temperature seems like a big leap to me. And only for half an hour also seems to me like not enough time.

I got adviced to go from 4°c to 8°c and then let him at 8°c for 2-4 days. Then 12°c for 2-4 and so on till I reach my room temp.

But he also could have had an illness. Or anything really it's always a risk to hibernate turtles and tortoises.

Again I'm sorry for ur loss and I'm not writing this to attack u.
 

Krista S

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Aug 4, 2019
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Thank you. He was such a character, probably a statement only tortoise owners would really understand. This was the day he locked my husband out of his laptop 🥲
He’s beautiful! From the looks of his smooth shell, it is clear you took very good care of him. Thanks for sharing the picture and the story that goes along with it. We can all relate to how mischievous tortoises can be. Take care and keep the good memories alive. Again, I’m so sorry for your loss.
 

Jay's Turbo

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UK
Sorry for ur loss.
I'm not an expert on hibernation or brumation but I'm currently hibernating my spotted turtle also in the fridge.
Maybe he got temperature shocked? From the fridge directly to room temperature seems like a big leap to me. And only for half an hour also seems to me like not enough time.

I got adviced to go from 4°c to 8°c and then let him at 8°c for 2-4 days. Then 12°c for 2-4 and so on till I reach my room temp.

But he also could have had an illness. Or anything really it's always a risk to hibernate turtles and tortoises.

Again I'm sorry for ur loss and I'm not writing this to attack u.
Thank you. You maybe right. We followed the instructions we found online to the letter, though it doesn't seem like long to go through such a big temperature change. I hope that your turtle wakes up well.

Does anybody know if a similar process to the one Freddy90 described could be better for tortoises too?
 

Tom

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Thank you. You maybe right. We followed the instructions we found online to the letter, though it doesn't seem like long to go through such a big temperature change. I hope that your turtle wakes up well.

Does anybody know if a similar process to the one Freddy90 described could be better for tortoises too?
I'm curious where you found online instructions that said go straight from a fridge at the end of hibernation into a warm enclosure with no transition?

I've never experimented with that to see if it would kill them, but it seems like it would be quite a shock to the system. I spend at least a couple of weeks dropping them down to hibernation temperature after a couple of weeks of shorts days and gut emptying. Then I spend at least two weeks gradually bringing them back up to "operating" temperatures.

Why would you be waking him from hibernation in the middle of winter? Most people wait until spring.

Sorry that he's died. Live and learn.
 

Jay's Turbo

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I'm curious where you found online instructions that said go straight from a fridge at the end of hibernation into a warm enclosure with no transition?

I've never experimented with that to see if it would kill them, but it seems like it would be quite a shock to the system. I spend at least a couple of weeks dropping them down to hibernation temperature after a couple of weeks of shorts days and gut emptying. Then I spend at least two weeks gradually bringing them back up to "operating" temperatures.

Why would you be waking him from hibernation in the middle of winter? Most people wait until spring.

Sorry that he's died. Live and learn.
Hi,
Thank you for your the information. The advice followed of giving him 30 minutes at room temperature, then a luke warm bath before placing him back in his tank was taken from the following website:

We woke him now as it also said that for his second year of hibernation he should only hibernate for 6 weeks.

Tortoisetrust.org has the following advice:

Remove the hibernating box from its winter quarters and warm it up by placing it in a moderately warm room. After an hour or so remove the tortoise from its box and place it in a warm (+25 C), bright environment. A 150 Watt reflector lamp suspended about 40cm (15’) above the tortoise will make a huge difference. Do not expect a tortoise to begin feeding without this sort of artificial assistance in the UK.

I wish we could wind the clock back.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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Hi,
Thank you for your the information. The advice followed of giving him 30 minutes at room temperature, then a luke warm bath before placing him back in his tank was taken from the following website:

We woke him now as it also said that for his second year of hibernation he should only hibernate for 6 weeks.

Tortoisetrust.org has the following advice:

Remove the hibernating box from its winter quarters and warm it up by placing it in a moderately warm room. After an hour or so remove the tortoise from its box and place it in a warm (+25 C), bright environment. A 150 Watt reflector lamp suspended about 40cm (15’) above the tortoise will make a huge difference. Do not expect a tortoise to begin feeding without this sort of artificial assistance in the UK.

I wish we could wind the clock back.
I'm so sorry. There is so much wrong information circulating out in the world about tortoises and their care. I can't take it all down or I would.

I too wish I could roll back the clock, and tell you to get your tortoise info here only.
 

Mrs.Jennifer

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Hi,
Thank you for your the information. The advice followed of giving him 30 minutes at room temperature, then a luke warm bath before placing him back in his tank was taken from the following website:

We woke him now as it also said that for his second year of hibernation he should only hibernate for 6 weeks.

Tortoisetrust.org has the following advice:

Remove the hibernating box from its winter quarters and warm it up by placing it in a moderately warm room. After an hour or so remove the tortoise from its box and place it in a warm (+25 C), bright environment. A 150 Watt reflector lamp suspended about 40cm (15’) above the tortoise will make a huge difference. Do not expect a tortoise to begin feeding without this sort of artificial assistance in the UK.

I wish we could wind the clock back.
I’m so sorry that misinformation caused the death of your beloved Turbo. As “parents” we want to do the absolute best, and it’s heartbreaking when we realize we didn’t prevent harm. Be kind to yourself and know that I am holding you in my heart.
 

turtlesteve

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Sep 23, 2012
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Sorry to hear of your loss.

I have a hard time accepting that only the temperature change did this. I am wondering if something else happened. Could he have aspirated water during the bath? Maybe got too cold during hibernation, or entered hibernation with food in his digestive system?
 

mark1

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if the temp change kills them , i'd have killed quite a few by now ...,.... i dug up a 2-2.5" eastern box turtle one day last month , cause we were getting 1-2 feet of snow that night , and i wasn't sure i'd get another chance to get him before spring ...... dug him up , put him in the container he's been in since , as fast as i could walk in the house and put him in it ...... i'd guess for sure something else was wrong with your tortoise , he may have been dead by spring regardless ..... JMO
 

Salspi

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I dont have any experience in hibernating. But, there are many stories about dead looking tortoises that arent dead. Im not trying to give you false hope here. But, are you 100% that it died? Im just asking.
 

Relic

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if the temp change kills them , i'd have killed quite a few by now ...,.... i dug up a 2-2.5" eastern box turtle one day last month , cause we were getting 1-2 feet of snow that night , and i wasn't sure i'd get another chance to get him before spring ...... dug him up , put him in the container he's been in since , as fast as i could walk in the house and put him in it ...... i'd guess for sure something else was wrong with your tortoise , he may have been dead by spring regardless ..... JMO
There is something remarkable about box turtles and cold temperatures. I've found them when raking leaves in their outdoor enclosure with at least a third of the carapace exposed to freezing temps. On the other hand, I've found them still mostly buried even when the temps are approaching 70. I think their thermo-regulating mechanism is perhaps different from tortoises in some fashion, but I have no hard research to base that notion on. Just a random supposition...
 

mark1

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might be so ...... the biggest temp swings i see have to be the water hibernating turtles ....... i don't believe they gain or lose heat like an inanimate object .....
 

Farcryjj

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Dec 28, 2016
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I'm sorry for your loss. Hibetnation is the most nerve-wracking time every year.

My russian hibernates every year in the fridge at about 4 to 6 Celsius. Normally I would hibernate him for 2 or 3 months with bi-weekly weight check. It happened twice that when he was active for 7-8 months in a year, he slowed down in summer and we had to hibernate him early. His schedule is sometimes off because he always lives in an indoor enclosure.

When he got out of the fridge, we would leave him for half an hour in the room temperature. Then we put him in the water that is about 5 degree more than his body temperature. We raise the water temperature very gradually until eventually the water temperature is at 27, 28. The whole process takes about 4 hours and we check his body temp and water temp all the time. So far he has taken his hibernations like a trooper.
 

Tolis

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So sorry for your loss..I hope you get another tort to make it happy and give it all the love you had for turbo
 

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