How to care for a turtle that hibernates

Many cold-blooded animals, such as turtles, and different mammals such as the bear, hibernate during the coldest months of the year in order to protect themselves from low temperatures and successfully overcome the time when there is less food. In the case of turtles, not all species hibernate, but those that do must be adequately prepared to withstand those weeks without food. Since you are not in your natural environment, it is essential that you have a clear idea of ​​how to take care of them to ensure that they overcome this stage successfully. In .com we explain how to care for a turtle that hibernates .

Not all turtles hibernate

The first thing you should be clear is that not because you have a turtle this will have to hibernate, and is that not all species do . When you acquire a turtle it is very important to be clear about its species, the type of climate from which it is native and all its habits in order to keep it healthy.

The species of turtles that hibernate are:

  • The Gopherus or the desert
  • The Scripta Trachemys or red-eared
  • The Testudo Horsfieldii or Russian tortoise
  • The Clemmys Insculpata or wood turtles
  • The Clemmys Guttata or spotted
  • The box turtles

If your pet corresponds to any of these types, then you must be clear about how to take care of it while it hibernates .

When do turtles start to hibernate?

In its natural environment, turtles begin to hibernate when temperatures begin to fall and are below 10 ºC. In general, the hibernation process should last between 3 and 6 months, depending on the climate in which the animal is found.

The animal usually prepares for this process by stopping eating 3 weeks before hibernation in order to completely empty their intestines, because if they hibernate with them full of food they could see their health seriously affected. Once the temperatures drop, the animal begins to hibernate, a process for which it must be completely healthy in order to overcome it successfully.

When turtles should NOT hibernate?

It is important to prevent turtles from hibernating if:

  • The animal is well below its weight or sick.
  • If your shell is broken or damaged.
  • If you are dehydrated.
  • If the turtle has an egg inside.

In those cases or in the case that your pet is simply not healthy, it is best to create an environment in your terrarium or aquarium whose temperature is similar to that of summer, so you will not feel the need to hibernate and can recover properly. Otherwise he will die.

How to care for a turtle that hibernates

To start before hibernation it is important to make sure that your turtle has not eaten for several weeks. You must also remove all waste from your intestines, if you do not immerse the turtle in water at 30 ºC and leave it there until you have evacuated.

Once the animal is ready, lethargy will begin until hibernating, at this time you should bear in mind that:

  • The ideal temperature in which you must maintain your turtle is between 6 ºC and 10 ºC. If the same is higher than 10 ºC the turtle will come out of hibernation.
  • The aquarium, terrarium or box where the animal is located should be in a cold and dark place. Heat bulbs should be removed and the temperature checked frequently to make sure it is adequate.
  • In the case of water turtles, it must be perfectly clean before the animal hibernates. If during urination you urinate or defecate, you must change the water and clean the pond. If the turtle is in a box and makes its needs, you must also replace the box.
  • Turtles that hibernate inside the house and out of the water can become dehydrated. If you notice that your skin and shell are dry, immerse the animal in water at less than 10 ºC and leave it there for a couple of hours. Then remove it and return it to its place of hibernation. Do this whenever it is necessary.
  • If your turtle hibernates outside the home, in the garden, make sure it is in a safe place, free from attack by predators or other animals. It is also important that your site is not in danger of getting wet with the rains. Monitor your pet frequently and if you see that it awakens the best is to take it indoors and prepare a box with the right environmental condition to hibernate inside.
  • When the temperatures start to rise and the animal wakes up, it restores its food and habitat as usual. If you have any questions or problems, contact a specialized veterinarian.