Day 59: Snoozy with a Shell

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The large shell-less being here….

Not all coldblooded pets hibernate when winter comes. This is especially true of shelled beings – such as a certain young redfoot tortoise, for example.

What is really interesting in our little flock is that we have one shelled being who does hibernate and one shelled being who does not hibernate.

Bruce, the resident rescued box turtle flock member, is a hibernating species.

Malti, the resident redfooted tortoise flock member, is a non-hibernating species.

Whether or not a turtle or a tortoise sleeps through the winter – an activity known as “brumation” – has to do with their native territory as well as where they currently reside.

For general purposes, species that naturally reside in or currently live close to the equator (often called “tropical tortoises” or “tropical turtles”) will not hibernate when winter comes.

Species that naturally reside further away from the equator (sometimes called “Mediterranean species”) or currently live farther away from the equator will likely need to brumate in winter.

But even if a species – say, for instance, Malti – happens to be a tropical tortoise AND happens to currently live relatively close to the equator, this doesn’t mean she won’t experience a natural slowdown caused by the reduced daylight hours and colder temperatures even if she is a non-hibernating species.

She may want to sleep more and be more sluggish during the day….for Malti, it might be more accurate to say “even more” since the only time she ever moves fast is when she sees something she really wants to eat.

Napping is always a favorite daily activity if you are Malti – especially in the cold season!

Speaking of which, you can know the cold and short days is really getting to your tort when she is no longer as enthusiastic about eating her dinner.

Experts (i.e., not me) generally advise keeping baby and juvenile turtles and tortoises of any species awake during the winter. But still, it is important to be sensitive to their circadian rhythms and the colder temperatures by adjusting their habitat accordingly.

When all you can see is your young tropical tort’s cute little non-hibernating nose, you know she has reached “maximum coziness” and is ready for the winter slowdown.
Pearl, Malti, Bruce & Shannon

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