How to prepare the hibernation of my tortoise?

For your Hermann tortoise older than one year, the hibernation is an important and sensitive period which requires a good preparation beforehand. Taking place approximately from October to April, it is characterized by a slowing down of the metabolism of the reptile, as well as a decrease of its heart rate and its breathing.

What is the hibernation ?

The terrestrial tortoises present in France, generally the Hermann tortoises, put themselves in a state of hibernation from November to March (according to regions), from the age of 1 year. The tortoise being a poikilothermic animal, its body temperature will vary according to the ambient temperature. Thus, the winter temperatures are too low and the body of the tortoise does not adapt. To avoid the thermal shock, the tortoise will decrease the functioning of its metabolism, its cardiac rhythm, as well as its breathing and its movements before burying itself, protected from the predators. From now on in a state of deep sleep, she will wake up only at the beginning of spring.

How to prepare my tortoise ?

The decrease of the sunshine and the fall of temperatures invite naturally the tortoise to hibernate. If you notice that it eats less, leaves its shelter little and looks for the dark zones, it is that it is ready to hibernate!

Before the hibernation, it is imperative that it shows a good weight and is in good health. Thus, a sick or pregnant torture should not hibernate. To know, the absence of hibernation during 1 or 2 years is without risks, but not more.

Question of timing:

  • The previous 2 months: increase its food ration.
  • The 10 days before: stop its food and help it to empty its intestines by making it take a small daily hot water bath.
  • 3 days before : Turn off the heating of her terrarium to obtain a temperature lower than 18C.
  • The D-day : Weigh her in order to be able to estimate her weight loss at her waking up.

Where to make my tortoise hibernate ?

  • Under an outside shelter : it must be lined with dead leaves, protected from bad weather and positioned on a soft ground, so that your tortoise can easily sink into it. Also take care to secure it perfectly from predators.
  • In a box of hibernation : It concerns the tortoises living in terrarium and/or in a region where the winter temperatures can be very basic. The principle consists in depositing your animal in a box filled with wet earth and dead leaves, itself positioned in a secure, dark, fresh and quiet place.

Keep an eye on her!

Weekly, check the temperature and hygrometry of its environment and observe its sleep. If it is in a box lined with soil, spray the substrate every 15 days to 3 weeks to maintain a certain humidity.

A difficult awakening

After 5 months of deep sleep, it is time to get your head out of bed… Yes, but beware of thermal shock! It is strongly advised to gradually increase the temperature of the room, during two to three weeks before the end of the cycle. The room temperature should be 15-20°C. Afterwards, a health check-up is necessary: weight, diseases, shape… Ask your veterinarian for a professional diagnosis.