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Successful hibernation!!!

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I am thrilled to say that today proved that my first hibernation attempt was successful. I had three box turtles go into hibernation in November and the first one made its debut today--the one I was most worried about because she is my pride and joy--at about 25 years old!!

Pepper weighed in at a fabulous weight of 463 grams which is actually more than what she weighed pre hibernation so I'm thrilled!!!

Leslie
post #2 of 27
Yippy.... Yippy .... That is great news
post #3 of 27
Wow - congratulations are in order!
Now... for the dummies like myself out there - what exactly are you talking about? What did you do? Did you force them to hibernate? Why?
Sorry for all the questions.......... Tell the story!! This is got to be interesting!
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys!

I'd love to explain. I live in Ohio where its cold and this is their natural environment--so it is natural for them to dig down deep into the ground when it starts to get cold and not emerge until its warm again--no eating no drinking, just sleeping!!

I have 2 outdoor pens where 3 of my 5 box turtles hibernating--the other two stayed indoors because they weren't healthy enough to hibernate.

They dig down in soft dirt and then I covered the area with all the fallen leaves to help insulate them.

Pepper slept for 4 months total!

Reginald my only male is still under as is Pumpkin another female--they are both 15-20 years old.

The two I have inside are females, 12-15 years old Lily and Violet. Terribly stunted growth but very sweet and living the good life now. They will hibernate next year.

Everyone but Pepper is a rescue, taken from their natural environment to be kept as a pet and maltreated or neglected, then I took them in! Pepper was taken from her natural environment but has always had a good life, I overnighted her from New Jersey to come live with me, she came from a friend--she started my box turtle rescue program.

Leslie
post #5 of 27
Wow!
Now I can properly congratulate you!!!
That is very cool! Do you have pictures of them to post? I would love to see it!
post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
I do I'll try and post them in the picture section.

Leslie
post #7 of 27
My ornates usually don't come up for good till late April or May (when the nights stay in the 60s). Considering in years past we've had snow in March (23rd one year, to be exact), this is a good thing. It's currently 37F out and will in the 40s for the rest of the week and I'm a lot further south than you are - so I find it odd that your's are up if they were hibernated outside.


Do you breed or plan to? This is another reason why people let their turtles hibernate - to set their cycles properly.
post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 
We have had multiple days of 60 even 70+ weather in the last 10 days.

Nope no breeding here, these guys have always hibernated--wild caught--not by me.

Leslie
post #9 of 27
Oh, so you keep every single one of them separate from your male? If you haven't been, or the females have been in contact with a male in the past four years, you have no choice on the matter. Be ready to catch them nesting and destroy all of the eggs, otherwise they will likely hatch.

If you can't do this, and I wouldn't blame you as I certainly couldn't, start reading up on hatchling care. It's more specific than adults require and you must be careful lest you set them up for horrendous looking deformities - and very likely drastically shortened lives.
But if you do it right, raising them from hatchings is fun.

Looking at a couple of turtle forums, the only ones who have turtles up are further south than I am or in warmer areas on the coasts. Watch your weather carefully and make sure they're under or inside if it starts to look like a cold front. I'm thankful my gang have more patience, I'd go crazy for worry otherwise!
post #10 of 27
Thread Starter 
Yep they are separated from my male--he has his own pen about 20 feet from the females--although prior to my owning him he was with the female Pumpkin so I am prepared for the fact that she may lay eggs.

I know what I'm doing I've got about 10 years experience under my belt with aquatics as well.

Leslie
post #11 of 27
Unless you've raised hatchlings, they'll be new to you. They will make you incredibly worried/paranoid over them. I was lucky, no health issues or picky eaters. Other people who do have a lot of experience (25 years for example) still run into problems. It surprised some of those breeders that I had week old hatchling ornates happily munching on veggies.


The only problem I've ran into was the year I overwintered them inside. Due to ornates more aggressive behavior one was bullied and had to be separated. It was shyer than the rest and easily discouraged away from anything. It put on weight and size on it's own and was perfectly fine reintroduced with them outside. Shyness improved, too.
There's also a slight issue that I hope corrects itself with more growth, piggy baby is a very good hunter - nothing edible gets passed her. Thus after being outside a few months she started to show some pyramiding. Though I've seen this degree in the wild juvies around here as well.

BTW, if you want to tack on years experience as proving something, I honestly can't tell you how many years I have been keeping reptiles. It's something I've done for nearly my entire life. Though I've had boxies for nearly 6 years straight now.
post #12 of 27
I've never had the guts to hibernate my Russians. I've had them 4 years and I still can't do it.....I'd have to refrigerator-hibernate them because it gets way below zero around here. And I'm just too scared to try it.

Congrats!
post #13 of 27
Now this just has me in awe!!! So you help them go into hibernation? What if they would wake up in the middle of the night, under the snow? =(

I know nothing about this, but it sounds very interesting.
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by anita1216 View Post
Now this just has me in awe!!! So you help them go into hibernation? What if they would wake up in the middle of the night, under the snow? =(
They wouldn't wake up while it's still cold. They're cold-blooded, and can't move if it's under a certain temperature.
post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 
I don't really help them into hibernation--Ohio weather does. I mean I prepare the ground by digging it up and making it easier to dig down in to. And once they dig themselves in I cover them with all the fallen leaves of autumn. Other than that I don't really prepare them. I keep weight on them every two weeks when they are awake.

Willow is right, the temperature is what wakes them up. Like Pepper woke up on March 10 and hasn't been back awake since. I sorta feel bad, she got her hopes all up that it was spring and it really wasn't. But I'd say in the next 2-3 weeks all three should be up during the daytime but will dig back in at night since the temp will still drop.

Leslie
post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack31 View Post
Pepper slept for 4 months total!

Leslie
#

...totally OT, but doesn't that make you wonder if turtles dream? And what would they be dreaming about, given that 4 months are a long time?

anyway- well done!!!

Christine
post #17 of 27
Our turtles have not come up yet. I hope they are ok.

I live in an area where we have box turtles everywhere. We are always saving them when they are attempting to cross the rural hwy rd. I haven't seen any on the roads yet either.
post #18 of 27
Thread Starter 
It does make you wonder if they dream during that time--they are very smart and know me, my voice etc who knows!

Like I said the rest of mine haven't come up and Pepper hasn't come back up since the 10th. I had no idea when to expect them as its the first year I've had them all. We don't see many naturally around here--my dad travels the country roads for work and helps many cross during the spring and summer months.

Leslie
post #19 of 27
Thread Starter 
Yesterday's 70 degree day brought Pepper back out of the ground her first appearance since March 10 but it also brought another debut--Pumpkin made her debut yesterday!!!! I am just thrilled beyond words that I now am 2 for 3 on successful hibernation! Only one more to go and I will be on cloud nine.

Leslie
post #20 of 27
This tread is just too cool! I've never thought about turtles hibernating, but it makes total sense. My question is...how did Pepper weigh more after she woke up then she did before she went into hibernation? Do they store and eat things? Or are they basically in a coma since they are cold blooded? I always thought animals woke up from hibernation basically famished because of using fat stores during the winter. But I don't know if turtles actually have fat....

Sorry about so many questions, I'm just fascinated now.

Congrats on your sucessful hibernation!
post #21 of 27
^Usually a turtle should be fairly close to the same weight they went down at. But several breeders, even myself, have noticed juveniles coming up weighing a little more and having put on a slight bit of diameter. Since we're not in the ground with them we don't exactly know what's going on. Whether they wake up occasionally and eat bugs that come by or not - though I somehow doubt this considering how mine act when they first come up. That and it happens even in those that get hibernated inside in insect free soil.
(if you've ever been pulled out of bed too early, have no idea what's going on and have trouble keeping your eyes open it's fairly close description to a just woken up boxie)
post #22 of 27
Thread Starter 
I agree with Strange wings. Neither Pepper or Pumpkin have ventured more than a foot from where they hibernated thus far. And of course tonight its going to frost. Poor things just want it to be warm.

I'm not sure how Pepper weighed more--I know I weighed her about 10 days before she stayed under for good and the first day she came up she weighed about 15 grams more than pre hibernation. I'll be very interested to see how much everyone else weighs post hibernation. I didn't get a chance to nab Pumpkin and weigh her last week.

Leslie
post #23 of 27
OK..Im digging this thread back up!!!!! How are the turtles?????
post #24 of 27
Thread Starter 
Everybody is doing well. The four females are now in a pen together and getting along well, enjoying very much the spring showers and all the bugs they bring out. The male is all by his lonesome but its for the best--he pesters those females constantly.

They all soak throughout the day but I'm still waiting for my girls who hibernated to warm back up to me. I look forward to the summer with them and the possibility of moving them to a new house before their next hibernation. (I forsee 2009 being a busy year for us)

Leslie
post #25 of 27
Thats wonderful!!!!! My daughter is obsessed with turtles and she thought it was amazing they hibernated outside I know she would really love to have one, but understands they are a lot of work and really need specialized care from educated owners. She has spent pretty much all of her life (she is 12) seeing the kind of care and commitment our rat colony takes. I tell her that maybe as she gets older, she can do research and if the time is ever right a turtle may come along that needs her love and care

Thank you for the update!!!!
post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by anita1216 View Post
She has spent pretty much all of her life (she is 12) seeing the kind of care and commitment our rat colony takes. I tell her that maybe as she gets older, she can do research and if the time is ever right a turtle may come along that needs her love and care
It sounds like she would be a great child to have a pet turtle, eventually. There's a thread in this section that I started a year or so ago titled "Turtles", it's full of information and links to turtle forums.
If you eventually decide she (and you) are ready, there are often turtles that need to be adopted.


All of mine came up by May 6th (as they do every year). They're eating and some of the juvies grew a little. It's too bad the weather is oddly chilly for May here, that makes nights still a bit cold.
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by strange_wings View Post
It sounds like she would be a great child to have a pet turtle, eventually. There's a thread in this section that I started a year or so ago titled "Turtles", it's full of information and links to turtle forums.
If you eventually decide she (and you) are ready, there are often turtles that need to be adopted.


All of mine came up by May 6th (as they do every year). They're eating and some of the juvies grew a little. It's too bad the weather is oddly chilly for May here, that makes nights still a bit cold.

I will definately look that thread up, thank you. We had quite the lively discussion about turtles yesterday...she figures at some point her and dad can create the perfect turtle pen

There is a lot to learn and she has plenty of time to figure out if this is something she really wants to do at some point.
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