Hibernation of Tortoises
Poor physical condition, weak health or simply the wrong feed are usually the cause of death.
Before the turtles go into hibernation, its wise to bathe them several times in lukewarm water. This should be done after the turtles have stopped eating, due to the decrease in body temperature. Bathing can be done half an hour at a time, from three weeks prior to hibernation. By bathing the turtles, they can take in fluid and empty the intestinal tract. This helps prevent the decay of remaining food in the intestines during hibernation.
Tortoises can spend the winter comfortably in an insulated box. It must be frost-proof and quiet. For filling, leafs, hay, artificial insulation chips or a combination of these can be used. Its good to check the turtles weekly, so any problems can be discovered and helped in time. During mild winters, the temperature may rise so high that the turtle awakes. Check regularly the ensure the animals havent crawled on top of the insulation, or they might freeze when it gets too cold again.
After hibernation, its important that the turtles are brought back to warmth slowly. A transition from 5°C to about 30°C should take a minimum of 14 days. The ideal temperature during hibernation lies between 2°C and 7°C. With a higher temperature, the animal will wake up again. Below 15°C the animal wont eat, because it will not be stimulated enough. Only at higher temperatures will the digestion reactivate. Obviously, tropical turtles dont hibernate.