Does age matter for hibernating horsfields?

All questions relating to hibernation can be placed here. It will make a good reference source for new keepers and keep hibernation related topics in one place, and easy to find.

Re: Does age matter for hibernating horsfields?

Postby Stuart » Fri Nov 20, 2015 3:31 pm

I like your back up plans, Paul!

We're in a rural area which was prone to powercuts when we first moved in, so we had the house partially wired to allow for the use of an emergency generator. Visitors were amused to see that the emergency hard wiring only went to the rooms where the animals were kept (in those days, tropical fish tanks in an upstairs room, and a large iguana enclosure elsewhere)...and when there was a power cut, we ended up running extension cables from the animal rooms into the other parts of the house we were using!

Fortunately since then the energy companies have improved provision in the area, and the generator hasn't been used...but it's there should we need it, and the nearest emergency socket isn't too far from the hibernation fridge.

As for your thoughts about temperature fluctuations in a fridge, I would have thought 0.5*C would be negligible in the greater scheme of things, and actually a quick weighing of a dormant tortoise wouldn't make that much difference either.It needs to be about 10*C for tortoises to stir, and reasonably sustained at that temperature, I think. 30 seconds even in a warm room isn't going to make that much difference to them, I'd have thought. That said, I usually weigh mine at night-time, and the room where the fridge is located is quite cool anyway.


Actually, if you're only getting 0.5*c fluctuation in the fridge, that's pretty good! The bottles of water will definitely be contributing to that degree of temperature stability.
Stuart
Hermanns (old female and 6 home-bred offspring), iberas (two), kbn (rescue), leopard, horsfield (rescue), stars (2 - long term loan), red-eared sliders (5)
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Re: Does age matter for hibernating horsfields?

Postby HorsfieldPaul » Mon Jan 04, 2016 7:14 pm

Thanks for you interest and comments Stuart. Two torts have now been in fridge for 6 weeks. I have followed all the brilliant advice offered by everybody following this post and so far, so good! They went into fridge hibernation weighing 63d and 59g, and now they weigh 62g and 57g which gives a net weight loss of 1g and 2g respectively. The lighter tort has always been more active so I guess this is why the extra weight loss. Considering they are doing ok, how much longer is suggested before I get them up? This is their first hibernation as they were very young when I acquired them. their shell lengths are 67mm and 64mm. I have researched as best as I can and it seems 8 weeks is a popular time. Is this realistic or is shorter or longer more suitable? I can feed them ok over the winter period. I have dried some weeds and there are still a few fresh weeds available in the garden. Any comments would be gratefully received ;) ;) ...
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Re: Does age matter for hibernating horsfields?

Postby HorsfieldPaul » Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:39 pm

Well, 9 weeks after hibernating Esio and Trot I nervously started to wake them up. I took their hibernation boxes from the fridge and put them in my front room at about 18 degrees c. After about 90 minutes they started to stir so I put them in their tortoise table at the cold end with the heat/light/uv bulb switched on. They both shuffled under the light after about another 90 - 120 minutes. I left them to warm up then bathed them both separately for about 20 minutes each. They must have taken water in as they both gained a little weight. Next day I bathed again and offered food (weeds picked from the garden). Horray - they both ate and peed white urates when bathed so happy days.
It will be 2 weeks since hibernation ended for them on sunday 7/2/2016 and all seems well. They are active, feeding with enthusiasm and basically looking well. For this I feel it very important for me to thank everybody on this fantastic forum who has given advice, knowledge and ultimately confidence to me who is a newbe to tortoise care. I also thank you all for giving your time to help me through the minefield of poor advice and information out there on the web all your help has resulted in 2 very happy horsfields having a good hibernation with minimum of risk.
Lastly I hope other new owners nervous about hibernation read this thread and gain enough confidence to do what is best for their torts. And if like me you are new to tortoise care and are unsure of anything just post any question on this great forum for unrivalled friendly help. A wise man once told me the only stupid question is the one you don't ask......
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Re: Does age matter for hibernating horsfields?

Postby Bigjoe » Wed Feb 03, 2016 9:50 pm

Hi Paul good to hear your two are all up and about,yes your right fantastic members on here who are always ready to share advice and knowledge.
Best regards
Joe
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Re: Does age matter for hibernating horsfields?

Postby Tink_Tonks_Torts » Wed Sep 07, 2016 1:47 am

This is a really useful and helpful thread. I have also heard that hatchlings and juveniles shouldn't be hibernated until 5yrs old but this didn't make sense to me as I realised that in the wild they would hibernate, as there wouldn't be any food available if not.
I intend to replicate my tortoises' conditions as close as possible to what would happen in nature, so assuming they are in good health with a good Jacksons ratio then fingers crossed I will start the wind down early December with a view to hibernating Jan and Feb. Just got to find somewhere with the right temperature range, this is where I too would feel safer with a fridge which I can test in advance and ensure it stays in the right temperature range.
Karen
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Experienced degu owner - 16 rescue degus, most with health issues as a result of poor husbandry/diet prior to rescue
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Re: Does age matter for hibernating horsfields?

Postby Stuart » Thu Sep 08, 2016 12:58 pm

Tink_Tonks_Torts wrote: I have also heard that hatchlings and juveniles shouldn't be hibernated until 5yrs old but this didn't make sense to me as I realised that in the wild they would hibernate, as there wouldn't be any food available if not.


Yes, that piece of husbandry advice has to be wrong, for the reasons you say.
However, one wonders where this myth originated.

Perhaps because the most established guide for hibernating tortoises, the Jackson Ratio, was originally obtained from data gathered from juveniles and adults?
And because traditionally, and especially until the ban on juvenile and adult imports, people more commonly kept larger tortoises?

Nowadays more people keep babies and sub-adults, than fully adult tortoises, because that is what is more commonly available.

And although there are now guides such as the JR for the hibernating of babies, it is perhaps harder for the inexperienced to judge the well-being of a very small tortoise than it is a larger one. [Even the "well-filled pie" analogy is harder to interpret if the "pie" isn't much bigger than a ...? - well, they don't make (and I don't eat) pies that small, that's my point!)

And finally, here's my own personal worry. Do all the baby tortoises in the wild, that have to hibernate, including those that hatched that same year, and sometimes just a few months before winter, actually survive?
If a small percentage perhaps don't - nature weeding out the weaker ones, perhaps - than how small a percentage would that be?

I'll admit (and doubtless shock other TT members, and Andy) that I've not yet taken the risk with my own hatchlings -despite the encouragement provided by Horsfield Paul's experience of successfully hibernating relatively small tortoises.
Admittedly my four year-old now looks comparable with others I've successfully hibernated in the past, so I'm feeling more confident with him, and am thinking of hibernating him this year. But the others, hatched in the succeeding years...there's one that is much smaller than her peers, whom I worry a bit about anyway, and even the others, who might be OK, I'm less sure about.
I've only got 5 of them. If I had 50, or 500, then I could contemplate a possible loss of one or two...but I want 5 out of 5 to survive. It will probably be OK. But I'm still anxious.

OTOH (and to placate shocked TT members, and Andy) I'm also aware of the huge risks in not hibernating tortoises that in the wild would and should hibernate.A major one being too much growth as they have to feed for the whole year, without that helpful hibernation break.
It's especially a problem for horsfields, who in the wild would spend more months asleep than awake. In captivity, and often treated like hermanns and iberas, they can easily overfeed and grow too fast, leading to all sorts of problems - metabolic bone disease, pyramiding. I've inherited one like that, and he's a sorry sight.
Stuart
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Re: Does age matter for hibernating horsfields?

Postby JerryMaffz » Thu Sep 08, 2016 2:57 pm

Tink_Tonks_Torts wrote:This is a really useful and helpful thread. I have also heard that hatchlings and juveniles shouldn't be hibernated until 5yrs old but this didn't make sense to me as I realised that in the wild they would hibernate, as there wouldn't be any food available if not.
I intend to replicate my tortoises' conditions as close as possible to what would happen in nature, so assuming they are in good health with a good Jacksons ratio then fingers crossed I will start the wind down early December with a view to hibernating Jan and Feb. Just got to find somewhere with the right temperature range, this is where I too would feel safer with a fridge which I can test in advance and ensure it stays in the right temperature range.


I successfully hibernated my tortoise by the refrigerator method last year, he was 16ish months old and weighed just 39g after wind down.
Keith
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Re: Does age matter for hibernating horsfields?

Postby Stuart » Thu Sep 08, 2016 3:20 pm

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Re: Does age matter for hibernating horsfields?

Postby Stuart » Thu Sep 08, 2016 3:21 pm

JerryMaffz wrote:
I successfully hibernated my tortoise by the refrigerator method last year, he was 16ish months old and weighed just 39g after wind down.

Thanks! :)
Stuart
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Re: Does age matter for hibernating horsfields?

Postby Sandy » Thu Sep 08, 2016 3:52 pm

Tink_Tonks_Torts wrote:This is a really useful and helpful thread. I have also heard that hatchlings and juveniles shouldn't be hibernated until 5yrs old but this didn't make sense to me as I realised that in the wild they would hibernate, as there wouldn't be any food available if not.
I intend to replicate my tortoises' conditions as close as possible to what would happen in nature, so assuming they are in good health with a good Jacksons ratio then fingers crossed I will start the wind down early December with a view to hibernating Jan and Feb. Just got to find somewhere with the right temperature range, this is where I too would feel safer with a fridge which I can test in advance and ensure it stays in the right temperature range.



Hibernatiing in the wild has nothing to do with food, its temps that make them hibernate:0)
It sounds like you are getting things sorted for their future hibernation, please feel free for any advice needed. Someone will help where they can.
And no question is too stupid to ask, the only stupid question is the one not asked:0)
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