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Old 07-11-2015, 10:39 AM   #1
vikki
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Default The importance of hibernation.

As a follow on from the thread "too light to hibernate" I felt that I would love to hear peoples opinion on the importance of hibernating. I realise as keepers we should try to keep things as close to nature as possible but then I start to think that realistically they don't live in wild conditions. In the wild tortoises hibernate due to weather conditions and availability of food so therefore under conditions where we can provide 'summer' type conditions year round is there a need for them to hibernate? Some species of tortoises don't hibernate and presumably this is because in their native habitat there is no need for them to do so as temperatures do not drop too low and food remains available. As most of you will know I have decided this year to overwinter my two and they are now indoors with combi lamps and food being supplied and they are probably at least as active if not more so than they have been during the summer and are both eating as much as they can get hold off (little pigs!!!). Herbie has definitely not been hibernated and I would guess neither has Daisy. I would like to stress that I am not suggesting that tortoises should not be hibernated (although I believe there are people who never do) but would just like to get peoples opinions on the importance of it and the reasonings behind it. Thanks
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Old 07-11-2015, 10:47 AM   #2
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This is a personal opinion only, as I appreciate there is a wealth of views and the important thing is the Tortoise is well cared which happens hibernated or not.

I think hibernation is like a recharge of batteries and I have always hibernated my tortoises, and my Horsfields have never been under a lamp even when tiny and hibernated naturally. though this year I will keep 2 spurs up because its convenient to consider in January time rather than now. CB
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Old 07-11-2015, 10:51 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CherryBrandy View Post
This is a personal opinion only, as I appreciate there is a wealth of views and the important thing is the Tortoise is well cared which happens hibernated or not.

I think hibernation is like a recharge of batteries and I have always hibernated my tortoises, and my Horsfields have never been under a lamp even when tiny and hibernated naturally. though this year I will keep 2 spurs up because its convenient to consider in January time rather than now. CB
I agree everyone has a different opinion and a lot also depends on your overwintering facilities. I have always hibernated those tortoises of mine fit to do so as believe it does them good to have a winddown and rest period. Mary
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Old 07-11-2015, 10:56 AM   #4
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Thanks CB and Mary- it is always about personal opinion and I really appreciate people sharing their views. I guess in was sat here looking out of the window at the miserable weather then look at my tortoises happily sunbathing under their heat lamp and it made me wonder if the weather dramatically changed in the mediterranean so that it was warm all year round but there was plenty of vegetation would wild tortoises still hibernate???
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Old 07-11-2015, 11:01 AM   #5
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sometimes they don't, or don't fully, it is dependent on whether, natural conditions etc. loads of debate on it though as you can imagine.
If I have rescues in , even under the lamps they will often seek out the darkest corners and sleep this time of year. CB
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Old 07-11-2015, 12:08 PM   #6
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When I was a kid we got a tortoise, big mistake me and my friends done was to fill them up with food before we put them into hibernation it just seemed like the right thing to do, no internet them days, no professionals to ask they died

I got another one a few years later, infact I found it in our local park I was around 10 years old (38 years ago), this one never got hibernated, I was always too frightened.

This tortoise was kept in a back yard, it had shelter, food and water every day, I bathed it every day in the summer you know the years when we got proper summers and seasons, I even oiled its shell as thats what we were told to do as well I remember it got every sort of greens plus tomatoes totally wrong foods, but just what we were told to feed it on, no extra heating, no weeds no greenhouse we thought we were doing the right thing. When winter came around it was brought into our home, kept next to a radiator and it never slept, we carried on feeding it, bathing it and generally doing what we thought was right although now we know this not to be true now.

I kept this tortoise for around 4 years, my mates all got dogs and I wanted one, never had one before, my dad told me I couldnt have both as it could hurt the torte when in the back yard together, I give my tortoise to a friend all seems like yesterday, oh another spin my friend became my brother-in-law. He kept the tortoise for about 3 years but it mostly lived in doors, the poor thing died.

Thats just a bit of back ground into my tortoise keeping, needless to say this time round and thanks to the internet I studied long and hard before doing it again, I feel like Im still learning.

I've read how they naturally live in the wild, they dont seem to go down for 3 months in Spain although they do seem to be able to do it here.

I think the best way to do it is let them naturally choose. Ive tried to keep mine awake in the large coldframe even having two lamps on, it didnt work this year, she went down herself and Ive allowed it. I will lock her in her den when it gets really cold with the tube heater set for 5c incase of freezing conditions, I have a wireless thermometer in her den so I can glance at the temperature from in our home but still checking her every other day.

When it gets to around 10 weeks I will start to place food in her coldframe and fresh water and open the den back up so if she wants to wake she can and she will be able to get to the water. Im sure in the wild if weather is still cold but they are dehydrated I'm sure mother nature would kick in and they would find water where ever.

This is similar to how Sandy keeps theirs although I have a den with the tube heater added just incase in mine.

Let them do it their way, they know best not us, if they have not been well then thats when I would take over and keep them awake.
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Old 07-11-2015, 02:45 PM   #7
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For a bit of balance on the subject Vikki, I overwinter all of mine. I researched both options thoroughly and decided overwintering was what I felt most comfortable doing. I carefully monitor light and heat levels through the overwintering period, maintaining night-time warmth too. I've been fortunate that my torts are alert and active and don't really slow down too much. They have a weed based diet through the summer months and I continue to grow and hunt down weeds through the winter, bulked out with a little romaine and radicchio and I use Nutrazu or Mazuri pellets once a week through the winter.

It's a personal decision. I have no problem with hibernation. It's what individuals feel is best for them and their torts.
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Old 07-11-2015, 03:37 PM   #8
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Tortoises have done things their way for millions of years, and if left to them they will survive another million or two:0)
Hibernation helps with over all health issues and fertility.
If kept up they can easily get over fed, as most would naturally be down for at least three months.
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Old 07-11-2015, 05:07 PM   #9
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Spot on , Sandy

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandy View Post
Tortoises have done things their way for millions of years, and if left to them they will survive another million or two:0)
Hibernation helps with over all health issues and fertility.
If kept up they can easily get over fed, as most would naturally be down for at least three months.
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Old 07-11-2015, 08:33 PM   #10
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I think which ever you choose do to, hibernate or over winter, you must have the right facilities to do it successfully. And do your research well, both need to be done carefully and correctly to be successful. I have always hibernated my torts, because I got my old ones in the 70s and that's what you did,and my young ones and babies are gradually all going into hibernation. The only one I don't hibernate now is my very old male Herman, as far as I am aware he is at least 90, he could be more, and quite doddery now, the last couple of hibernations he did, he struggled to come out of it, I think if he was in the wild, he probably wouldn't still be alive. Since I started to overwinter him , he has been a bit more perky. So every year with him now is a bonus.
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