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UK Hermanns

Discussion in 'Hermanns tortoises' started by eb318, Sep 8, 2018.

  1. eb318

    eb318 New Member

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    Hello

    I haven't posted before, but I've been reading these forums for some time. I've found the information here so helpful and inspiring, especially the post from @JoesMum

    I rehomed a 15 year old Hermanns back in May this year, from well meaning but out of date care. He now lives in my garden. He has a heated and insulated box, approx 1x2 feet, which is 35 C (95 F) in the day and 15 C (60 F) at night. He then has free roam of a secure area 12x6 feet, planted with safe sheltering plants and with some panes of re-purposed double glazed windows to form little cold frames.

    photo 4.jpg photo 5.jpg

    I feed him weeds, which I grow in a patch next to his paddock. I have recently fenced off this weed patch and will incorporate it into his main paddock next year, when it's grown up again. He will then have an area of 22x6 feet, which I'm hoping will be big enough to sustain grazing, meaning I don't need to pick leaves and feed him anymore. I want him to be self sufficient!

    His main paddock is on the right of this photo, the weed patch newly fenced in on the left. The photos are a little grainy, I took them from an upstairs window.

    photo 1.jpg photo 2.jpg photo 3.jpg

    He puts himself to bed every night in his hot box, and goes in and out of it during the day, depending on the weather. He eats well and is active, and often drinks from his saucer. His weight fluctuates, but is between 980g and 1030g. I weigh him weekly, and this is pretty much the only handling he gets.

    I don't plan to hibernate him this year, because I haven't seen good weight gain and I wasn't convinced of his health before I got him. I do plan to hibernate him in future years. For over winter, I have a 4x2 feet indoor box to set up for him.

    Current temperatures here are about 15 C (60 F), but overcast with sporadic sun only. It is below 10 C (50 F) overnight and early morning. It rains every other day or so, so the ground is often damp.

    My question is, given he will be downsizing bigtime to move indoors for winter, and won't be happy about this, how long can I leave him outside, with his heated box?



    Sid.jpg

    Thanks for reading,

    Ella

    PS I hope the photos come out...
    JoesMum and TechnoCheese like this.
  2. rocketmybaby

    rocketmybaby New Member

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    The photos are great and he’s really cute! I’m very sorry I don’t know! I keep my tortoise inside and I’m waiting for my outdoor run to be made! I only got my tortoise this Thursday and it’s only 2 months old! It’s called Rocket and I’m not sure whether it’s a girl or a boy as it’s not old enough!
  3. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Supporter

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    That's great!!! I love it.
  4. eb318

    eb318 New Member

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    Good luck with young Rocket, I fancied an old tortoise because I'm old, but the littluns are very cute. I'm in the North East of England, so if my tort enjoys the outdoors I'm sure yours will too.

    Thanks Yvonne, he seems pretty happy with his pad. He tries to charge me and evict me whenever I sneak in!
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  5. TechnoCheese

    TechnoCheese Well-Known Member

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    Beautiful enclosure!
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  6. rocketmybaby

    rocketmybaby New Member

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    Yes my tortoise likes the weather, I’m in the East as well!
  7. Huw

    Huw Active Member

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    This is just what I needed to see! Hoping little Mont can be an outside Tortoise next year.

    Mind if I ask a few questions?

    What indoor substrate are you using?

    Is the see through wall of his outdoor hideaway not an issue?

    When do you plan to bring him in for the summer?

    Lovely stuff, thanks for sharing.
  8. eb318

    eb318 New Member

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    Hi Huw

    I'm just going to use plain old soil from my garden for his indoor enclosure, he's been stomping about on it all summer so it seems fine for him.

    I wanted a clear front to his hot box, because I wanted the light to get in to stimulate him. It isn't just a night box, he uses it in the day as well. I actually had to put a small screen in there to make it a bit more secure for him but it's still pretty light. That's why it's the shape it is - tall and shallow, to bring in as much light as possible. He's never shut in there, he can move in and out whenever he wants.

    I don't know when I'm going to bring him in! I'm hoping not til at least October. As long as he's still spending time out of the hot box, in his wider enclosure, I'll leave him out!
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  9. Huw

    Huw Active Member

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    Thank you for replying! Going to sort this out for next year.
    Hope all is well
  10. Koen

    Koen Member

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    Very cool set up and nice looking tort!

    I live in Belgium and sort of experience the same weather as the UK but mine remain outside all year around. as well

    15 years old is a nice age and most of them have grown up at this stage so weight gains will most likely have stopped but fluctuation in weight is quite normal throughout the year, especially in spring and autumn.

    Just to understand, why wouldn't you let him sleep considering the above? You have got a perfect set up that allows for natural behavior including hibernation. I think he would be most happy if he could sleep in his territory and for you to be the most easy part :)

    Otherwise I wouldn't wait too long to take him in. The first trigger for them to start preparing for hibernation is the drop in night temperatures so once the temps start dropping below 10-12C, he will start preparing for hibernation. If you wait too long he is been triggered and his activity will drop or he will want to hibernate and sort of take a 'rest' when inside.

    Good luck!

    Koen
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  11. JoesMum

    JoesMum Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Well done! That's a labour of love and it has come out extremely well :)
  12. JoesMum

    JoesMum Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    The enclosure is based on what I said here
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/outdoor-accommodation-in-a-colder-uk-climate.140866/

    Joe was rarely interested in hibernation before mid October and sometimes not until December. I live in the South East of England though where the weather is considerably warmer and the days longer than the North East, so I am expecting this tort to want to wind down much earlier when outside.
  13. JoesMum

    JoesMum Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    You have a tiny baby. Don't be in too much of a hurry for outside time. Babies can withstand the British weather much less well than the bigger mature torts. Your baby needs the warmth and humidity of a closed chamber to be healthy and will need it for at least a couple of years before getting short spells outside.
  14. eb318

    eb318 New Member

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    @Koen those are really interesting points. I suppose I'm reluctant to hibernate him this year because we're new to each other, but actually if he starts to slow down, I could give him a brief sleep, just a few weeks, rather than a few months.

    He is spending more time sleeping, and becoming a bit more picky with his eating, but he spends most of his time in his hot box so he's still very warm. I heat him overnight to about 15 C, so he won't be feeling the cold nights, but certainly the sunlight hours are getting much shorter, so this may be contributing to his slovenliness.

    I guess I won't rule out hibernation this year. Just need to build up the courage! Definitely the long term plan is to let him be free to sleep over winter.

    Thanks @JoesMum as always. Certainly it's several degrees colder up here. I have some family down in the tropical South, so I visit occasionally. Having said that it's been so hot even up here this summer, but I don't suppose we can expect that again for another decade...
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  15. Koen

    Koen Member

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    That is usually the second most common reason why people do not allow hibernation. First being illness, second one being their owners being scared :D
    The advantages out run the disadvantages; Not too many weeds available, he will be in a smaller enclosure for a couple of months. his biorhythm will be disturbed etc.
    But please don't feel obliged. It won't harm him if you wouldn't hibernate him for a year but a couple of months is perfectly normal to him.

    Even here in Belgium we have had a great summer. In our groups we are getting a lot of messages of eggs being hatched naturally in greenhouse. Did suprise me though how many breeders miss their clutches though but has never happened so commonly here in 'sunny' Belgium :)

    Koen
  16. eb318

    eb318 New Member

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    You know, I might just give it a go. You've given me some confidence. I can always wake him up again if starts losing weight and doesn't seem to be doing.

    If it's what he's trying to do, I won't fight it.
  17. Koen

    Koen Member

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    Sounds exciting! Good luck!
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