10 Best Tortoises Facts: Do tortoises hibernate?

Do tortoises hibernate? Like all other reptiles tortoises also hibernate in a specific season and for a specific time period. There are few breeds of tortoise that hibernates and they only do so for some health reasons. A tortoise cannot eat and live for the whole 365 days a year. There is a specific breed called Mediterranean tortoises which are naturally prepared to hibernate for a specific time period. As there is a biological clock for all the processes so you cannot play with it. If you force a tortoise to hibernate going beyond their natural period and process then you will have to face the consequences as well.

How do I hibernate my tortoise?

To hibernate your tortoise you will first have to know either you’re having a specific breed that hibernates or not. Here I am mentioning some tortoises which do hibernation:

  • Mediterranean tortoise
  • Russian tortoise
  • Herman’s tortoise
  • Greek tortoises
  • Kinixys
  • Gopher tortoise

Among these Mediterranean do tortoises hibernate naturally during the cold winter season. Others can also hibernate and can be made to hibernate.

How can I hibernate a tortoise?

Hibernation is not just simply sleeping through the winters. It requires complete storage of nutrients in your body to survive the hibernation otherwise your tortoise will simply die due to malnutrition and being dehydrated the death is obvious. As hibernation starts in November you should start monitoring and keeping a check and balance on your tortoise’s health. Your tortoise should have been healthy and must have put on enough amount of weight to be able to survive winters without food and water.

August is an appropriate time to start planning about hibernation and keep a track of your tortoise’s health. It is always advised to consult your vet before your tortoise goes into hibernation. Only a vet can tell if it is physically capable to do hibernation or not.

Period of fasting of tortoises:

Before your tortoise goes into hibernation it performs a period in which it does complete fasting without eating and drinking anything. The duration of this period can vary from 2 to 6 weeks depending upon the size and the weight of your tortoise. 

Before going into hibernation the tortoise should digest its last course of meal properly otherwise it will rot in his stomach leading to more serious issues like bacterial and gut infections etc. during the fasting period the tortoise should be given an optimal temperature of 12 degree Celsius for digesting the food effectively. This makes the answer to this question “Do tortoise hibernate” very clear.

How to weigh your tortoise?

As far as the weight of your tortoise is concerned, there are specific techniques for specific tortoises that work for the specific species only. 

Jackson ratio technique for measure the weight of tortoise:

Basically it is a guide specifically designed for Herman and Spur- thighed tortoises. In this technique, it measures the ratio in relation to weight to length and determines a figure which is closely related to your tortoise’s weight.

Mcintyre ratio for measure the weight of tortoise

This is another technique mainly designed for Horsefield tortoises. One thing that has to be remembered is that the figures produced through these techniques are closely related to the tortoise’s weight but are not actual values.

Can a tortoise be hibernated into a fridge?

You can apply this method to hibernate your tortoise but not use the same fridge to keep your food in. For hibernating the tortoise you will need these few things, and after reading all of these your question about doing tortoise hibernate becomes very clear.

  1. First, you will need a box that should be larger than a tortoise.
  2. The box can be made out of cardboard and must have an air hole in it for proper ventilation.
  3. The box should be filled with a material preferably soil so that the tortoise can bury itself in it.
  4. The temperature should range between 3-10 degrees, not more or less than this.
  5. Before putting the tortoise in the fridge check the fridge as well because if the fridge is not stable your tortoise can’t die.
  6. To maintain your fridge temperature you can put bottles in it to maintain the temperature.

How to hibernate your tortoise?

You can hibernate your tortoise in a fridge as mentioned in the above method or you can also use this technique which is I am going to mention below

The box method:

You can hibernate your tortoise in a garage, shed or a cottage in a box. But before doing this you have to ensure certain precautions which are:

  1. The room cannot be flooded easily.
  2. It should not be prone to temperature fluctuations.
  3. Any wild animal should not have access to the room.

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For doing this method you will need:

  1. Two boxes; one for burying the tortoise and the other for the ventilation as well as insulation.
  2. The first box is filled with a substrate including sand and soil to bury the tortoise in.
  3. The second box is placed above the first box and the gap is filled with paper.

Safer hibernation and your tortoise

Never ever do a process you don’t know about, especially a process like hibernating and hatching because you know we can’t play with Mother Nature.

Optimal conditions for Hibernation of tortoises:

It doesn’t really matter where you are hibernating your tortoise either in a fridge or in a box, the thing that is crucial is to maintain an ideal temperature so that your tortoise neither freeze nor it suffocates. 

Therefore, you have to maintain an ideal temperature of 4 or 5 degrees Celsius for the hibernating period. But the temperature between 3 -10 is optimal. Make sure that substrate is enough so that your tortoise is buried properly. The temperature should not fall below 3 degrees Celsius or should not be more than 10 degrees Celsius.

Humidity in hibernation:

While hibernating your tortoise you have to know that humidity plays a major part in hibernating and there is a specific level of humidity that should be maintained for specific species. For example, a tortoise species called Horse’s field needs fewer humidity levels than others.

Do tortoises hibernate? Tortoise hibernation guide

Hibernation is a process that can be done very carefully when done artificially. Here are a few mistakes people make while hibernating their tortoises and have enabled us to answer this very asked question: do tortoise hibernate.

  1. Never feed your tortoise before the hibernating period. Because they need a fasting period of 2-3 weeks to completely digest their last meal.
  2. Temperature fluctuations
  3. Poor ventilation leading to suffocation
  4. To make a tortoise to hibernate which is not physically okay.

Hibernation time period of tortoises:

The hibernation time period can vary with age. Here I am providing a chart showing the range you should hibernate your tortoise depending upon its age.

  • 3 weeks for one year old
  • 6 weeks for two years old
  • 10 weeks for three years old
  • 16 weeks for four years old
  • 22 weeks for five years old

10 facts about the hibernating tortoise

As it may seem from the story tale of tortoise and hare, the tortoise is not a fast animal and it becomes even slower in the winters, therefore, they have to take necessary measures to survive the low temperatures. As we all know reptiles do hibernation in the winter season so as the tortoises. To escape the harsh season they hibernate. They do so by burying themselves in the soil making holes and dents in the land.

  1. Tortoises are animals that drain energy from the external environment and hence are ectothermic animals. 
  2. As the temperature goes down their energy requirements cannot be fulfilled therefore they need to hibernate.
  3. The place where they hide is called “Hibernacula”.
  4. For hibernation, they reduce their metabolism to such an extent that they don’t need food during that time period.
  5. Some scientists use the term “Burmulation” instead of hibernation to differentiate the dormant pattern shown by some mammals.
  6. Tortoises that live in tropical areas, they do not hibernate.
  7. The depth of hibernacula depends upon the region in which the tortoise is found.
  8. Due to low metabolic rate, their oxygen demands become so low as compared to a normal routine
  9. Some freshwater turtles can extract oxygen while hibernating in deep lakes.
  10. They also use calcium from their shells which goes directly into the blood for the proper functioning of the heart and also to mask the production of lactic acid.

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ways to hibernate your tortoise

There are not many ways to hibernate a tortoise but the most effective ones are:

  • Hibernating naturally
  • Boxing method
  • Hibernating in a fridge

Question and answers

Do tortoises hibernate in the wild?

Terrestrial Do tortoises hibernate by making burrows in the soil for hibernation. The hibernation period can vary from age to age. However, it also depends upon the species of the tortoises. few species which do hibernation are the Mediterranean tortoise, Russian tortoise, Herman’s tortoise, Greek tortoises, Kinixy tortoise Gopher tortoises.

Do tortoises hibernate in winter?

Do Tortoises hibernate only in winters to survive them because when the temperature falls down they can’t consume energy as they drain energy from outside. During the autumn season, they much upon the food as much as they can to save the energy for their hibernation.

Do tortoises hibernate in captivity?

Yes, your tortoise can be made to hibernate in captivity as well you can employ the following methods to make your tortoise hibernate, these are: Hibernating naturally, Boxing method, Hibernating in a fridge. Tortoise prefers to hibernate in the winter season preferring from November.

Do tortoises hibernate in the fridge?

Tortoises can be hibernated in the fridge providing the necessary temperature conditions and providing the right substrate. It doesn’t really matter either you hibernate your tortoise in a fridge or in a box you just have to maintain the optimal conditions for hibernation. This is important so that your tortoise neither suffocates nor freezes.

Do tortoises hibernate in summer?

Some tortoises living in very warm and humid environments hibernate in small ponds and lakes and come outside when the rain resumes.

We hope that all these facts, terms, methods and conditions will help you a lot in hibernating your tortoise. You can get further details about Can tortoises swim?

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