Saturday, November 14, 2020

Cool & Comfy For A Long Winter's Snooze

My tortoise enclosure's hibernaculum (actually a brumation chamber as they brumate as opposed to hibernate) is complete. Well, it's almost finished; it needs a ramp or platform so they can easily get into it but they could do without if push came to shove. 

Anyway, now my Hermann's Tortoises will brumate properly and thus the male's sperm count will likely rise quite a bit; hopefully to the point where he, as I suspect right now, no longer shooting blanks. Only one egg out of about 16 eggs the female produced in the past 3 years was fertile and that one died while incubating when left in the care of my wife for a couple of weeks when I was moving. Previously the female Hermann's tortoise had quite a few eggs that hatched successfully. The number one culprit, me not brumating them properly. They need a cool down period, each winter, to be fertile with any reliability. As for my male Redfoot Tortoise, he stays inside for most of the winter; while they may brumate in the most southerly part of their range, it's my understanding that most Redfoots probably do not or only do so for a brief and mild winter throughout most of their range.



The overall enclosure has 8 foot long walls, each board is about 6" high and it is about 36" wide; the slotted blocks add a little more to the dimensions. It was one big enclosure before but I built in the hibernaculum (brumation chamber as they brumate not hibernate) recently and finished today. The brumation chamber has the black plastic tub so it will get some heat buildup on sunny days heat even if it gets really cold outside. The walls are built up with an extra 6" tall board and 1 block higher that were not there before. The bottom board, of the brumation chamber, above ground helps prevent substrate falling out if they come out on warmer winter days. That substrate is where they will dig and bury themselves. There is a baffle wall of those slotted blocks inside (three deep and two across from front wall to outer wall to keep the substrate from falling toward the opening (seen in front wall) and thus falling out (to the right of the opening as you view it). The substrate to the right (your right as you view it) is as high as all three boards, giving them a good depth under which to cover themselves while retaining enough heat to survive (or that is the plan). I have potting soil, coco fiber, cypress mulch, and plant material (leaves, dead cucumber & tomato plants and such) added in there all chopped up as substrate. The plant material slowly decomposing will produce some heat, probably more than enough heat to assure it does not freeze. That is important because all the substrate is atop a concrete patio and they cannot dig down into the earth as they normally would do so and did in my rear lawn when in NY. I have an indoor thermometer with an outdoor sensor hooked up that shows current temperature as well as the high and low for a 24 hour period. If it gets too cold inside the chamber then they will be brought inside but I am confident they will be able to stay outside all winter in that setup.

All the best,
Glenn B 


retired wrench said...

No pics of the little rascals ? When I lived in Phoenix a few people there had various tortoises. One person had a mother son camel set. Elvis,was a cool little dude. Thanks Allan

Glen Filthie said...

I’d put a small brooder lamp in the their house for really cold nights, Glenn.