Hibernating a 1 1/2 year old spur thigh tortoise

by Chloe
(Wiltshire, UK)

Phebs in the summer enjoying a raspberry

Phebs in the summer enjoying a raspberry

Hi there, my spur-thigh tortoise hatched in June '09 and has been a super problem free girl (her name is Phoebe) this summer she hasn't stopped eating and her weight and size were spot on for her age. However the last 5-6 weeks she has not woke up and will not eat. Naturally I've been waking her up and placing her under the lamp to keep warm and giving her warm baths to try and encourage drinking, but she is completely not interested. The last few days I've left her to see if she'll wake up or anything but no she's kept herself buried. So my question is what should i do? Keep waking her up and trying to feed/drink or let her just sleep as hopefully come spring in a few months she'll wake back up... I've been told not to hibernate her this year and start next year as she will be a bit bigger so is she sort of semi hibernating herself already?

Any advice would be great =)

Many Thanks


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Jun 25, 2011
by: Anonymous

The best thing you can do for any tortoise is to stick to what it does naturally. Baby tortoises in the wild dont get told they cant hibernate this year.
Aslong as you provide the correct temperature and dont let that temperature fluctuate it will be fine. Whatever you do dont put your tortoise in a "cool place" in the house as houses are too warm. Your tortoise wont eat when it feels winter is on the way because it needs to be empty or the food will rot inside it during hiberantion causing death.
If your tortoise wakes up during hibernation it risks using that little bit of energy saved for sleeping through (which is why we dont want it getting warm) so use a fridge set to the right temperature. Sounds crazy but i did this for years and my tortoises were fine. I later sold them due to going off to college and the woman who bought them didnt take my advice and put one in the spare room to hibernate and he never woke up :(

Its been a while since ive had to hibernate a tortoise but if you find out the correct timing and the correct temperature to set the fridge at nothing will go wrong unless there is something already internally wrong with your tortoise. Hope this helps x

Dec 10, 2010
Hibernating Baby
by: Shelly

First of all, thanks for sharing such a cute photo of you tortoise.

It's true that it's better that very young tortoises not hibernate. Yours seems to be on the borderline

This page is very long, and not everything applies to your situation, but you maybe find the section called "OVER-WINTERING OR NON-HIBERNATING" helpful.

Keep it slow and steady.

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