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Protocol in association with vetinary professionals
Preparation: getting the tortoise ready for hibernation
Hibernation: what to monitor during the tortoise hibernation
Waking Up: how to bring a tortoise safely out of hibernation
Video: video guide of tortoise hibernation protocol
For 2 weeks before hibernation keep your tortoise's daytime temperature above 24oC. The tortoise needs to hibernate without any food in its stomach so do not feed during this time. Bath your tortoise daily in tepid water to stimulate the tortoise to defecate and clear the gut of waste.
Spend a further 1-2 weeks placing your tortoise in cooler locations by switching off its heating, then moving it to cooler rooms. Hibernation should be between 2oC and 10oC, the ideal temperature is 5oC.
Weigh your tortoise and record it's weight. Place your tortoise in a box just bigger than its self and put in some shredded paper. Put the small box into larger box and surround it with shredded paper, place the whole thing into a refridgerator. Insulating the boxes will reduce the impact of any temporary temperature fluctuation, but it will not prevent freezing if the temperature drops below 0oC.
Throughout the hibernation period always regularly check the temperature within your fridge is a steady 5oC.
Check the weight of your tortoise weekly. Only allow 1% of your tortoise's initial weight to be lost per month. For example, on a 500 gram tortoise allow 5 grams to be lost each month. If your tortoise is losing too much weight bring out of hibernation immediately.
Hibernate a two year old tortoise for one month, a three year old for two months and anything else for three months only. Do not ever hibernate your tortoise for longer than three months. If your tortoise urinates whist in hibernation, warm it up straight away and seek veterinary advise.
Remove your tortoise from the refridgerator. Allow it to slowly come up to room temperature during the day before returning it to their heated vivarium or table. Your tortoise will now happily bask at over 24oC.
You should offer some tortoise food and fresh green vegetables now as your tortoise should be hungry.
Bath in tepid water every day to ensure your tortoise is well hydrated. If your tortoise is not drinking or eating within the first week, contact a vetinary advice immediately.
This is our 'How to hibernate your tortoise safely' video.
It is a complete guide that will show you how we advise to safely hibernate tortoises at Northampton Reptile Centre. It is based on our tortoise experience accumulated over our 20 year history and our collaboration with exotic vet Jeremy Wright. This is the guide that makes hibernation easy.
Of course, if you are still left with any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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