Which tortoises hiberate?

Ramirezm2

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I am a reptile specialist and realized that i dont know much about the tortoise hibernation since i have delt with mainly sulcatas. I understand that tortoises that are from close to the equator generally do not hibernate but wanted to see which popular tortoises do. I would very much appreciate a list of tortoises that can hibernate or bermation. And possibly how long and the general temperatures for hibernation.

Thank You!
 

Yvonne G

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I don't know all the species, but I'll tell you the ones I'm familiar with - Gopherus agassizii, Gopherus morafakai, Testudo horsefieldii, box turtles, snapping turtles, red ear sliders, I think the Greek tortoises hibernate and maybe the Hermanni.

My rule of thumb is to keep them below 50F and above 40F. I hibernate mine in unplugged chest freezers. The temperature settles and remains constant even though they're in a place where day time temps get warm and night time temps get cold. I have found that my tortoises and box turtles stay hiding once the night time temps are consistently below 50F. They wake up the same way - when the night time temps are consistently above 50F
 

Big Charlie

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I don't know all the species, but I'll tell you the ones I'm familiar with - Gopherus agassizii, Gopherus morafakai, Testudo horsefieldii, box turtles, snapping turtles, red ear sliders, I think the Greek tortoises hibernate and maybe the Hermanni.

My rule of thumb is to keep them below 50F and above 40F. I hibernate mine in unplugged chest freezers. The temperature settles and remains constant even though they're in a place where day time temps get warm and night time temps get cold. I have found that my tortoises and box turtles stay hiding once the night time temps are consistently below 50F. They wake up the same way - when the night time temps are consistently above 50F
Just curious... a person in a closed chest freezer would suffocate. Why don't the tortoises?
 

Ramirezm2

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Thanks for the information. But that seems very cold for a tortoise. Keeping any domesticated tortoise below 50F could easily create respiratory infection. Maybe turtles but for any grassland tortoise would be very cold. i deal with golden greeks, greeks, hermans, and marginated torts every day and we make sure that their temperatures does not go below 75F in the ambient. And star torts should never be below 80F

I have met a few people that use an incubator or just a typical shoe box to hibernate their torts. And their temperatures are no where near that cold. But most I have seen will only hibernate or bermate for a few weeks to over a month.
 

Yvonne G

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Thanks for the information. But that seems very cold for a tortoise. Keeping any domesticated tortoise below 50F could easily create respiratory infection. Maybe turtles but for any grassland tortoise would be very cold. i deal with golden greeks, greeks, hermans, and marginated torts every day and we make sure that their temperatures does not go below 75F in the ambient. And star torts should never be below 80F

I have met a few people that use an incubator or just a typical shoe box to hibernate their torts. And their temperatures are no where near that cold. But most I have seen will only hibernate or bermate for a few weeks to over a month.
As long as they're dry, the low temps are ok. But if they're allowed to get wet, they get a R.I.
 

Tom

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Thanks for the information. But that seems very cold for a tortoise. Keeping any domesticated tortoise below 50F could easily create respiratory infection. Maybe turtles but for any grassland tortoise would be very cold. i deal with golden greeks, greeks, hermans, and marginated torts every day and we make sure that their temperatures does not go below 75F in the ambient. And star torts should never be below 80F

I have met a few people that use an incubator or just a typical shoe box to hibernate their torts. And their temperatures are no where near that cold. But most I have seen will only hibernate or bermate for a few weeks to over a month.

40-50F is cold for an active tortoise that is not hibernating in winter. Yvonne didn't list normal temperatures for housing those species. She listed hibernation temperatures for when they are "dormant" and "sleeping" in the dark over winter.

All of your Testudo species would benefit from a larger drop in temperature at night. I take babies down to the low 70s and adults down to the mid 60s. 75 is a good ambient day time temp for Testudo species, as long as they have a place to warm up. I agree with your assertion of never below 80 for a star tortoise, but the star also needs a hotter basking area for daytime too.
 

Tom

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Just curious... a person in a closed chest freezer would suffocate. Why don't the tortoises?
  1. Reptiles require a much smaller volume of air for each inhalation.
  2. A hibernating tortoise breathes very slowly.
  3. Freezers are not air tight.
  4. Every time the door opens, the air gets "refreshed".
I used to use a little pen body, essentially a rigid hollow tube, to keep the seal around the door from completely sealing, but I saw that other people weren't doing this, and their tortoises were fine. I tried it one year, and… my tortoises were all fine. During hibernation they are using so little oxygen, and the volume of air in the freezer is so great, that it all works out fine.
 

tglazie

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I brumate my marginated tortoises using a refrigerator, given that South Texas is never so consistently cold as to allow any other method of brumation. Regarding air flow, I open the fridge twice per day and check each animal with a temp gun, in addition to having digital thermometers in each container so that I can record variation throughout the day. I also check weights of the animals twice per week (I weigh the box so to minimally disturb the animals; I used to do this once per week, but started twice out of an abundance of caution). Anyway, yes, between forty and fifty works, with my preference to fall between forty and forty five. My opening the door twice per day for checks seems to refresh the air enough to prevent anoxia.

T.G.
 

Ramirezm2

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40-50F is cold for an active tortoise that is not hibernating in winter. Yvonne didn't list normal temperatures for housing those species. She listed hibernation temperatures for when they are "dormant" and "sleeping" in the dark over winter.

All of your Testudo species would benefit from a larger drop in temperature at night. I take babies down to the low 70s and adults down to the mid 60s. 75 is a good ambient day time temp for Testudo species, as long as they have a place to warm up. I agree with your assertion of never below 80 for a star tortoise, but the star also needs a hotter basking area for daytime too.

Does most or all of the Testudo species hibernate? I very much appreciate the information
 

tglazie

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Not all Testudo brumate. Certain forms of North African Graeca don't brumate (Tunisian graeca, for instance), nor do Egyptian tortoises. All Hermanni brumate, as do all marginateds and Russians. The Greeks are the most complicated in this regard. Many forms are capable of brumation, but they don't necessarily brumate in all parts of their range.

T.G.
 
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