to hibernate or not to hibernate

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to hibernate or not to hibernate

Postby racla_7 » Wed Jan 28, 2015 8:51 am

My tortoise, Mathilda, has been identified as Testudo graeca graeca complex or possibly as Testudo graeca cyrenaica.

She is about 29 years old and lives in a garden shaded by trees. Weather in Malta is as follows:

Winter (wet, windy) temperature
Day: 10-16 deg celcius
Night: 5-10 deg celcius

Summer (dry, sunny, hot) temperature
Day: 28-35 deg celcius
Night: 22-26 deg celcius

Mathlida does not hibernate in winter yet she doesn't eat or drink anything. She does move a little. I have taken her indoors while it was raining and placed her in a large box but she would go to one side and start scraping to get out. If left outside she does not often seek shelter from the rain and just sits in the rain in the soil! One time when I placed her in the box indoors she urinated - transparent liquid with some white more jelly-like part.

Once on a sunny winter day I tried immersing her till her chin in luke warm water as suggested, with the hope that I encourage her to drink.

Come summer time she eats and moves around the garden to find sunny spots. She even follows me around the garden when she wants food.

Her winter habit worries me. I spend each winter looking forward to the summer so I can set my mind at rest that she is well. I am not sure what to do...may you guide me as to what is the best for Mathilda during the winter time considering the malta climate?


Kind regards,

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Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2015 12:33 pm

Re: to hibernate or not to hibernate

Postby Tortoise Trust » Wed Jan 28, 2015 9:02 am

Our observations on these tortoises that they do not seem inclined to bury down, even in cold weather. We have some in an enclosure not far from some Jordanian and Moroccan tortoises... both of those groups bury down, but the Libyans do not!

So, I think you should look at some form of assisted 'over wintering' for them. On good days they can go out in the sun, and on cold days, or overnight - indoors. They will keep on feeding IF you provide some extra heat. The easiest way is for a "mini greenhouse" type structure. It does not have to be complex or expensive. Just a low level unit she can get in and out of that provides shelter from wind chill and a top that allows sunlight though. Even on days with low air temperatures, a tortoise can easily obtain body temperatures 10-15C higher than ambient in this type of enclosure. See:


Lots of information there.
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