Who’s hibernating

It’s that time of year again when the temperatures drop and there’s a lot to do inside and out to make sure all our critters have a safe winter. For the next few weeks I’ll give our blog readers a behind the scenes look into our winter animal habitats. This week we’ll look at who’s hibernating.

Some types of tortoises and turtles hibernate in the wild. Their health and lifespan can be adversely affected by irregular or interrupted hibernation. Our outdoor tortoises and turtles start to slow down as the weather cools. Those that are preparing to hibernate will stop eating; a natural process as they hibernate with an empty stomach. It’s important to make sure water is available for drinking and soaking during this wind down phase because they hibernate with a full bladder.

Our Russian tortoises Buddy and Mr. Lucky bury themselves for the winter. When the weather begins to cool they’ll bury themselves at night and come back out during the day. As it gets colder they come up less often until they decide to hibernate and no longer come out during the day. They are experts at burrowing and it’s impossible to tell where they are in their enclosures. For this reason we do not go in their enclosures or add any plants during the hibernation season.

Our desert tortoises Crash, Tripod, and Patches go deep into their burrows for the winter. We can usually see them in the back of their burrows. They’ll shift positions during the winter, but will remain in their burrows until spring. When it starts to warm up we can add plants to their enclosures, so long as we do not go near their burrows and disturb them.

Our box turtles Jalapeño and Habanero hibernate at slightly different times. Jalapeño is a desert box turtle and tends to start his hibernation process a bit earlier than Habanero, an ornate box turtle. They slow down during the cooler weather and bury themselves for the winter. These pictures are from a few weeks ago. Currently they are underground like Buddy and Mr. Lucky.

The hardest thing about hibernation is not seeing our tortoises and turtles every day. Mr. Zoo and I get used to seeing their happy little faces, feeding them, and interacting with them. They all have their own unique personalities and we miss seeing them each and every day. Even though hibernation is a natural process we find ourselves worrying and check their enclosures daily. When warmer weather finally arrives everyone starts to pop out to soak up the sun. Until then, we watch and wait.

Many thanks for reading and have a happy animal filled day! 🙂 Mrs. Zoo

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