Necessity of hibernation?

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Necessity of hibernation?

Postby dunchan » Tue Dec 15, 2015 1:21 pm

I own a six year-old male Russian Tortoise (named Sherman!). He was given to me as (a most welcome) birthday present by my Wife and Daughters. He was a 2009 UK hatchling so he was two years old when I was presented with him in 2011. I stuck to the TT guidance and kept him for a full year before attempting a hibernation. He's now two weeks into his fourth hibernation. My methodology for fridge hibernation follows all the guidance supplied by the TT. That includes a mandatory vet visit microscopy of a stool sample etc. etc. His previous three hibernations had been without any problems and I have no reasons, so far, to be concerned about this current one. This little guy is a much-loved pet and is an important part of our family.

Here's my question, I started a dialogue with a USA Russian Tortoise forum about hibernation. It seems that in the USA they do not routinely hibernate their Russian Tortoises and were surprised to read that I do. They became quite defensive when I suggested that annual hibernation should should be a normal feature of the husbandry of a Russian Tortoise. They cited their experts claim that not hibernating has no effect on the health, longevity and breeding performance of their animals. Can someone reassure me that what I'm doing is in fact correct? Or indeed is hibernation actually essential and beneficial?
dunchan
 
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Re: Necessity of hibernation?

Postby Tortoise Trust » Tue Dec 15, 2015 4:49 pm

dunchan wrote:
Here's my question, I started a dialogue with a USA Russian Tortoise forum about hibernation. It seems that in the USA they do not routinely hibernate their Russian Tortoises and were surprised to read that I do. They became quite defensive when I suggested that annual hibernation should should be a normal feature of the husbandry of a Russian Tortoise. They cited their experts claim that not hibernating has no effect on the health, longevity and breeding performance of their animals. Can someone reassure me that what I'm doing is in fact correct? Or indeed is hibernation actually essential and beneficial?


The scientific evidence is very strong that hibernation in animals in general, is beneficial. A recent summary:

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20151203 ... -in-winter

"In a 2011 study, the team found that hibernators live slowly, invest more in survival and stay alive for a longer time. "All the hibernators seem to decrease their annual reproduction rate and increase their longevity," says Bieber. "Hibernation slows down the pace of life."


As for "their experts" - I have seen no credible data for that at all. Zero. None, and I am fairly familiar with the literature on this subject. I'd also point out that any claim that non-hibernation has "no effect on longevity" is going to requite some very long term studies, as these animals are capable of lifespans well in excess of 80 years.... I think what they might be saying is they "believe" it has no effect on longevity - which is not the same thing at all. Further, non-hibernating does require you to make use of artificial light and heat in Northern climates, and that does carry certain risks with it.

http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/b ... ealth.html

Unfortunately, there is a different mentality in America on keeping tortoises. Very different from that typical in say, Germany, or the UK. There is a tendency to believe that nature is an enemy to be defeated, rather than something to learn from. It is a very artificial and (to me) strange way of looking at things. It is also very, very commercially driven. More light and heat accessories... more artificial feeding regimes... more totally artificial environments = more sales for what they call "the reptile industry" (which says it all, really). You also have to take into account this is coming from somewhere where very anti-science beliefs are almost mainstream:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... te-change/

http://www.gallup.com/poll/170822/belie ... igins.aspx

And also - without wishing to offend anyone - a place where a huge percentage of the population believes that the more assault rifles there are in circulation, the safer everyone will be, and where someone named 'Trump' is regarded as a serious contender for the highest office in the land - so in that context. nothing really surprises me about what they might believe about hibernating tortoises...
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Re: Necessity of hibernation?

Postby dunchan » Sat Dec 19, 2015 5:27 pm

I was always confident in my belief that hibernation was a necessary regular procedure for the Russian Tortoise owner.
(Sherman is in the fridge on the third week of his fourth ten-week hibernation as I write this.)
I am very grateful for the reassurance of your response.

I was appalled to read of the unnecessary deaths of so many native tortoises in your adopted country and have of course signed the appeal and posted same on FB.

Seasonal greetings to all at the TT.
p.s Hope you don't now, have any difficulties entering the USA if indeed to have the wish or need to do so!
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