Ending hibernation in pet tortoises

Your tortoise is likely to wake up during January or February. You need to prepare for the ending of hibernation in a similar way as you started hibernation. Hopefully your scaly friend is one of the species on the following list, as not every tortoise hibernates:

•  Spur-thighed (Testudo gracea) tortoise
•  Hermann’s (Testudo hermanni) tortoise
•  Marginated (Testudo marginata) tortoise
•  Horsefield’s (Testudo horsefieldii) tortoise
•  Testudo ibera
•  Testudo whitei
•  North American Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizzi)

The hibernation should only last between 6-12 weeks, depending on the age of your animal. Young animals (age 2-3 years) should only be hibernated for 6-8 weeks initially, then with each passing successful hibernation you can increase the time period. Adult, healthy tortoises can hibernate as long as 12 weeks.

You can hibernate your tortoise in a fridge or in a hibernation box in a garage or shed. We do not recommend to allow your tortoise to hibernate naturally, as UK weather is different to their natural climate.

At the end of the hibernation bring your tortoise into the house or place it in room temperature (18-20c) for a couple of hours. Then give a lukewarm water bath for at least 30 minutes. After this warm your tortoise up to preferred optimum temperature zone, which is around 30c. Place your tortoise on the tortoise table under the heat and UV light. Bathe your tortoise daily for at least a week to encourage drinking and urinating and offer food and drink.

If your tortoise won’t drink within 2 days, won’t eat within 1 week and won’t pass urine in 5-7 days you need to seek veterinary advice. Post hibernation anorexia is a very common and serious illness.

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