Bruce Explains Box Turtles: Brumation Checks

This is Bruce’s third winter with our little flock. So this is also the third year he has brumated (hibernated) here in captivity.

(I hate the word “captivity” by the way….but that is the reality of Bruce’s situation as a wild rescued box turtle who would have otherwise long ago become a road pancake. And his mommy wasn’t about to let that happen!)

Every year I learn something new about box turtles and brumation. This year Bruce went into hibernation very early but then popped back out again as our weather did some seriously non-traditional yo-yoing. One minute we were in full-on winter and the next it felt like summer had returned.

But then things settled down a bit weather-wise and he went back in. When Bruce isn’t visible, I don’t automatically assume things are okay for him even though he has a fully-enclosed, heavily insulated sleeping spot.

Every few weeks I head outside, pop open the top of his enclosure and we do “box turtle safety checks.” I gingerly feel around in the mixture of hay, mulch and soil until I feel a small round box turtle body. If he wriggles or hisses – which he will often do – I leave him be. If he is silent and still (very rare but it has happened) I dig him up and lift him out to give him a good once-over.

I tell myself I only do this for his safety, and this is absolutely a valid reason that our vet also supports.

But if I’m being 100 percent truthful, I also do it because I miss him!

Bruce pokes his head out of his bed of thick hay during slightly warmer times when he was still going in and out of brumation earlier this winter.

And remember…..

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