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As we’ve already covered most of this in Hibernation Blogs 1-2, we’ll look at the timescales, common misconceptions and important things to remember.
Hibernation only occurs when the temperature is between 2 and 5 degrees celcius. Noise will not wake your tortoise from hibernation.
We aim for all tortoises to be awake by the start of April, however it can be earlier for shorter hibernations. Aim to hibernate your tortoise through the coldest winter months, rather than Autumn.
1st year = 3 weeks
2nd year = 6 weeks
3rd year = 10 weeks
4th year = 16 weeks
5th year and over = 22 weeks (these timescales can often be too long with our warmer winters, so use your own judgement here)
This timescale is to be followed not by age, but by how many consecutive hibernations your tortoise has had since you became it’s owner. Do not assume an older tortoise that is said to be healthy, can hibernate without monitoring the tortoise’s health yourself for 12 months.
Do not hibernate any tortoise that you have not owned for 12 months or longer.
These hibernation guidelines should only be followed as guidelines, not fact. If your temperatures fluctuate too much, you can abandon hibernation, take them through the waking up procedure and put your tortoise back under it’s lamp.
If your tortoise is hibernating in the fridge, please ensure it is a fridge you use, so that it is opened regularly for air flow.
Always check your thermometer’s minimum and maximum temperatures to ensure there is no chance of your tortoise waking up.
A tortoise will wake up from hibernation if the temperature rises above 7 degrees celcius and will die if it drops below 0.
If your tortoise wakes from hibernation, it should be brought out, taken through the waking up procedure and then put back under it’s lamp and resume normal routines. Tortoises only have the energy to wake up from hibernation once, putting them back into hibernation can be fatal.