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Looking after a Tortoise is not simply a matter of letting it lose in the garden and allowing it to do its own thing until winter arrives. It requires a knowledgeable owner to provide the best standard of care. This Keeping A Pet Tortoise book from Interpet takes you through all stages of looking after a tortoise and covers both the well known Mediterranean species as well as the more exotic tropical tortoises. It provides essential information on all aspects of ownership, from buying your pet to everyday well being, housing set ups, hibernation advice, breeding and hatching care. The perfect starter book with over 130 colour photographs and written by experts.
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Below are some recent questions we've received regarding Interpet Keeping A Pet Tortoise Book, including answers from our team.
Hi. My little Horsfield tortoise, Sheldon, is only about 18 months old and I have 2 questions to ask.
1. How long shall I hibernate him for? I don't want to do it just now because it's too mild here in London (today is 18 degrees) .
2. I have been reading that you should stop feeding them about 2 or 3 weeks before hibernating to empty their system out. But I feel that is too long and not a very nice thing to do.
Thank you so much. Sandra
Whenever a tortoise goes into hibernation, it is a stress on their body and involves some risk. If they could, they would stay warm and in the sunshine nearly all year round. However that cannot happen outdoors in the UK, so they need to hibernate. Given that fact, there are a few ways to reduce the risks and help your tortoise through the winter. One of these is to have been well fed through the summer, to take on suitable reserves. It seems that a mostly empty digestive system is much healthier while hibernating than one with food in it. The process of digestion does not occur while they are kept cold, so the food in the gut tends to "go off". Much better if there is no food in there. Hence while tortoises are preparing for hibernation, it is better for them not to eat for a few weeks while they are still warm enough to digest food which they ate earlier. Another factor is the length of time they hibernate for. Ideally this should be as short a period as possible, so I agree that if your tortoise is active and feeding, I would tend to keep it this way. However it will need to be kept "awake" for at least a month after it has stopped eating to allow the gut to empty. Your 2-3 weeks is hardly enough I think, unless it is kept a bit warm during this period. Some things might not seem "nice", but that is different from being healthy. I like eating cream cakes but I do not do it all the time. Such is life...