Urgent - fridge temp increase 8 degrees - what to do

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Urgent - fridge temp increase 8 degrees - what to do

Postby MandyDyke » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:40 am

Hello, Is a temperature of 8 degrees too high for refrigerator hibernation?
Jack the mediterranean spur thigh tort has been peacefully hibernating at a stable temp of 5 degrees - until some workmen moved the fridge and turned it back on, making the temperature fluctuate wildly.
Now the temperature's up to 8 degrees (but pretty stable). With cold weather forecast this weekend, I'm reluctant to take him out. He has moved, a tiny bit. My instinct is to leave him where he is, but any advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
Best wishes,
Mandy
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Re: Urgent - fridge temp increase 8 degrees - what to do

Postby Stuart » Thu Mar 15, 2018 2:20 pm

I'm always very cautious giving advice on this kind of thing...because it depends.The optimum hibernating temp is said to be 5*C, but if there's no significant movement, then 8* might be OK.
I might be tempted to suggest that you could just follow your instincts and leave yours in the fridge, but monitor temperatures carefully, and also look for signs of further movement or actual waking.

What else to do/consider?
Firstly, the obvious question is, can you not turn the temps down a bit?
or the fridge might settle down to a lower temperature in a day or two, if it was already maintaining a reasonably constant 5* previously. Also, are you measuring the temperature of the tortoise, or the fridge? Tortoises, especially larger ones, can maintain temperatures for a while even if the surrounding temps fluctuate a bit. (Over a period of time, of course, sustained higher temperatures might induce the end of hibernation.) Hibernation temps in the wild are not constant - but of course tortoises can adjust themselves by digging up or down a bit. In a fridge, that behaviour doesn't work, and it just leads to unnecessary and non-productive energy-consuming movement.

If the fridge won't go colder, or continues to get warmer, then the next question is, what to do? Move him to somewhere colder than the fridge can manage, or wake him?
How long has it been in hibernation? Did you weigh it beforehand? If so, you could check on any significant weight loss. If you were concerned, you could decide to wake him.
But do you have indoor accommodation in which to bring it up to spring and summer operating temperatures and light levels, to keep it going until real spring and summer arrive? Alternatively, do you have anywhere that is colder than the fridge, to which you could safely move him while you sort the fridge out?

I can tell you that for various reasons I didn't put four of my tortoises in the fridge this year. One of the reasons was that the location I chose to finish off the winding-down process (the porch to an outside door we hardly ever use) turned out to be an ideal and fairly constant temperature of 4*-5* , so I just left them there.
Apart from a worrying few days when temperatures dropped very low (but never to zero!) it's been fine right through February until the last few days. Recently there've been some highs of 8, even 9 degrees. But the tortoises seem not to have stirred.
10*C and above for any length of time, and signs of significant movement, and I might consider either finding somewhere colder, or even using the fridge. But I was only aiming to get to the end of March anyway, then I was going to wake them. (I've got indoor accommodation for other tortoises I've been overwintering, so it's not much of a problem to put them back with the others...)



It would be good to hear comments/suggestions from others, but the Forum is very quiet these days...
Stuart
Hermanns (old female and 5 home-bred offspring), iberas (two), kbn (rescue), leopard, horsfield (rescue), stars (2 - long term loan), red-eared sliders (5)
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Re: Urgent - fridge temp increase 8 degrees - what to do

Postby Sandy » Thu Mar 15, 2018 2:43 pm

MandyDyke wrote:Hello, Is a temperature of 8 degrees too high for refrigerator hibernation?
Jack the mediterranean spur thigh tort has been peacefully hibernating at a stable temp of 5 degrees - until some workmen moved the fridge and turned it back on, making the temperature fluctuate wildly.
Now the temperature's up to 8 degrees (but pretty stable). With cold weather forecast this weekend, I'm reluctant to take him out. He has moved, a tiny bit. My instinct is to leave him where he is, but any advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
Best wishes,
Mandy



Like most things 5c is guide. A little either way will be ok.
But a lot depends on the size of the tortoise. Large tortoises can take a high of 8c for a short time, as it takes them longer to warm up. Smaller tortoises will warm up quicker so need more of the 5c.
If your tortoise is not moving around at 8c then leave well enough alone, as its nearly time for them to get up anyway:0)
You know your tortoise believe in yourself:0)
Sandy
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Re: Urgent - fridge temp increase 8 degrees - what to do

Postby MandyDyke » Thu Mar 15, 2018 7:26 pm

Thanks, Stuart, for your very comprehensive and considered answer. Although very small, Jack has barely moved, so I guess that in itself is reassuring. Weighing in at 542g at the beginning of the hibernation period (24th December) Jack has lost 8g in total.
I wish I could turn the temperature down. Although well packed to ensure temperature stability, this is a pre programmed medical fridge which has never varied before from a steady 5 degrees. Because it was bought second hand some 5 years ago, we don't have any instructions and these are not available on line any more. This incident aside, by the way, I would throughly recommend medical fridges over and above wine coolers for safer hibernation.
I am going to follow my instinct and keep him hibernated.
I will keep you posted!
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