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Woolsey fire victim, need help tortoise woke up from hibernation

Discussion in 'North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus)' started by cbs, Dec 14, 2018.

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  1. cbs

    cbs New Member

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    Hello we evacuated from our home during the Woolsey fire, the fire destroyed our home but luckily I got our tortoise out before the fire to the house. That was on November 9 our tortoise was asleep from Thursday, November 8 until that Sunday right after the fire. She woke up walked a little bit, pooped a little bit and then she has been sleeping in her enclosure inside a cool place since then. My concern is the house we are staying in has air purifiers: big noisy, room rumbling boxes. I think they disturbed her hibernation because when I peaked in to check on her she had moved to the other side of the enclosure. Last night I put a few lettuce leaves in the enclosure, this afternoon they look like they’ve been trampled and nibbled on a bit but she’s back in the same spot. My question is #1 do you tortoises wake up in the middle of hibernation and can they go back into hibernation? #2 if that is not possible how do I care for a tortoise that we have traditionally put outside during the day but now the land is scorched and toxic? And how many hours would she be awake during the day during winter cold times? Our temperatures range from the 50s to the 70s. Should I be putting her in a little warm bath water?
  2. LaLaP

    LaLaP Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    I'm so sorry that you've lost your home and so much more I'm sure. My heart goes out to you and your family. I can't even imagine... and dealing with the disruption of your tortoises hibernation on top of it all!
    Unfortunately I don't have any experience with hibernation and I'm sure one of our forum experts will come along soon to help.
    I wish all the best for you all in this tough time.
  3. cbs

    cbs New Member

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    Thank you. Yes, it has been pretty tough, especially for my 12 year old. But I’m thankful we are all alive and well.
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  4. LaLaP

    LaLaP Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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  5. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member

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    First, is your tortoise a desert tortoise? It's good for us to know the species to be the best help.

    Do not feed the tort anything at all! If she has food in her gut, you will be forced to keep her awake for the rest of the winter, probably not something you want to deal with in addition to your current situation. You can offer water in a dish for drinking. If you want to try to get her back to sleep, I would not soak her because the water will tend to warm her, which is not what you are wanting to do.

    Where was she when you got her during/after the fire? In a burrow? In a box in a shed or cool room?

    Where did she spend previous winters?

    I'm thinking that if it is cold enough, she could be put in a small dog crate with lots of dirt/orchid bark/coir to dig down into and she may just go back to sleep. They do move around a bit during brumation, but it doesn't mean they want to wake fully. Getting the temp cold enough and steady is the difficulty. Desert torts should be 45-50 degF day and night. Do you have a place that is that temp? If not, you could use a refrigerator. I use a 4.5 cu ft for my 9 in, 4.75 lb DT. If yours is bigger, you would need a larger fridge. Mine will need a bigger one next year. Depending on how long you will be in your temporary house, this may work best. It could be easily moved from one house to another without disturbing the occupant.

    Any more suggestions depend on what species tort, how she spent previous winters, and your current temps, day and night.

    Fill us in on that, and we can move on with more specific ideas.

    I'm so sorry about your home! Depending on your needs, maybe some forum members in your area could loan, or sell you, some equipment.
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  6. cbs

    cbs New Member

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    She is a California desert tortoise, 3 years old. Our typical routine was take her out in the morning to her yard, bring her into the house and her tub in the evening. The day of the fire she didn’t wake up, so we evacuated her with us, with her still asleep in her tub. She didn’t wake up for 3 days. I’ve put a few lettuce leaves in her tub, since I noticed she moved. Now I’m really worried.
  7. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member

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    I think she is trying to hibernate, which is what DT's do in the wild.

    If you think she ate lettuce, I'm not sure what to advise you to do. How big is her tub? Could we have some pictures?

    I'm going to call in some more experienced members who can help you, especially since it sounds like you lost most of your belongings in the fire. I'm not sure if you should keep her up or let her sleep. In the meantime, take the lettuce out...nothing to eat.

    @orv @Tom @Yvonne G
  8. cbs

    cbs New Member

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    We have her in a closet of the house we are sharing with friends. She has a towel covering tub, it has “Critters crumble all natural coconut” about 2” deep and a carved out wood “cave” type thing. Yes, we lost everything in the fire, thankfully we all got out ok. I’ve taken out all the food, my husband doesn’t think she ate any of it.

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  9. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member

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  10. LaLaP

    LaLaP Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    I keep checking back on this thread hoping someone has some answers for you and your tortoise. I'm worried for your sweet tort. I agree with @KarenSoCal that a refrigerator might be a good option but from what I've read they need to stop eating about 2 weeks before going into that deep sleep or the food in their gut will rot and cause damage. I assume she was eating right up until the fire, right? Here's what I'm wondering and maybe someone will chime in...

    Could you wake your tort with warm soaks and keep soaking her everyday for a week or so until all the food/poop is out of her system and then refrigerate her? I don't know the answer to this.

    Another alternative which I think is a safer bet is to get her a big plastic tub and a heat lamp (just a regular incandescent flood bulb) and wake her up, warm her up and feed her. She may not have long term ideal conditions (due to small space and lack of uv, humidity, etc) but neither does your family and all the families and pets effected by the fires and yet you will all recover and survive.

    Here's an idea to save you from getting the tub... is it possible to put down cardboard or wood or many towels/ blankets to make a pallet off of the cold floor inside the closet? The whole floor of the closet could be her domain and hang the flood light from the rod. If you went to a hardware store and got the light and a temperature gun (about $12) you could make her a temporary home in the closet. Just make sure you insulate her from the cold floor. Then keep the basking area at 95-100 degrees using the temp gun to adjust height of lamp to get proper temp.

    Does any of this help? I hope...
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  11. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member

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    Thank you @LaLaP
    I don't know why no one is responding to my tags...would you try?
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  12. LaLaP

    LaLaP Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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  13. cbs

    cbs New Member

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    We are only temporarily living here, but if you think I should set up the closet, for a little while, I can give it a try... I should also point out that we adopted her this past summer. The previous owners moved out of State, but did say she hibernates typically November to March. I’m thinking the tub might be good, in case we have to relocate. Are you suggesting those summer “pool” plastic tubs for little kids?
  14. LaLaP

    LaLaP Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    A kiddie pool would work or a huge plastic tote. I've read that there are xmas tree totes to store artificial trees in that are good and they'd be available this time of year.
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  15. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator

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    I don't own a DT nor do I hibernate. My suggestion is info I have gathered from the forum and what I would do in your place. Usually we do not suggest hibernating a tortoise that you have not had for a year in order for you to observe and get too know it to be sure it's healthy enough to survive a hibernation.
    With your situation and that she has already been hibernating or trying, I would try to keep her that way as long as you know she stopped eating at least two weeks before going into her sleep. If she hibernates with food in her gut she must not be hibernated, she will get very sick and die.
    If you are confident she hasn't eaten then try to get her temps much more steady for hibernation and place her in a quiet dark cool/cold place. I would use about 6 inches at least of mulch/coir over her.
    Keep us updated and good luck.
    So very sorry for your devistating loss, but glad no lives lost.
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  16. LaLaP

    LaLaP Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    And what do you think if she did eat right up until falling asleep?
  17. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member

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    What approach to use is completely dependent on when she last ate.

    If she stopped eating before the fire, she can be hibernated, which requires cold (45-50) , steady temps.

    If she has eaten in the last 2 weeks, she needs to be kept awake. This is against her natural instincts, and will require bright lights and heat 14 hrs a day.

    As I see it, unless you believe she ate lettuce, hibernation would be easiest for you to do.

    I would put her back in the cool place she was in when you first posted. Actually you want the coldest place you have that the temp fluctuates the least, that she will be safe from mice.

    I put a thick layer of newspaper in the bottom of a plastic bin. Then the tortoise goes in, then lightly stuff above the tort with lots of strips of newspaper. Then put a piece of cardboard with a weight on it to keep the tort in the box. This way, you can check on her, and easily see if she has pooped or peed.

    Maybe tomorrow we will get more responses from members who keep DT's and hibernate them.

    If we lived closer I would hibernate her for you, and return her in the spring when you are more settled.

    Hang in there...it will all work out eventually.
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  18. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator

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    Then she needs to be kept awake. I believe I mentioned hibernation with food in their gut is deadly.
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  19. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member

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  20. ascott

    ascott Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Hi....so I went through the posts here and just wanna know?

    Where is the tort now?

    What enclosure / set up is the tort in now?
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