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Dr. Dan
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I acquired a six year old Herman last March 2013. I keep him

Resolved Question:

I acquired a six year old Herman last March 2013. I keep him in a vivarium with heat. The person I got him from told me that he was too young to go into hibernation, until he was around 8 years old.
He is now seven, and he has been quite normal all winter, until now!
In February, he started burrowing under his substrate and not coming out for food or drink. I have picked him up every four days or so and offered him food, which he has eaten. He then goes back into the burrowing mode.
As a new keeper, I am very worried that he could die if he doesn't eat or drink, particularly as I would have thought the hibernation season was about over???
Please advise!
Thank you!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Dan replied 2 years ago.
Hello!

Thank you for your question, I'm Dr. Dan and I'll try to help you.

It is not unheard of for a tortoise to go into hibernation at this point in the season. If he is allowed to sleep or hibernate then his metabolism will slow and he will not need to eat or drink. As long as he is not parasitized or fighting an infection at this time then he has a good chance of hibernating for a short time and then waking up just fine. If you are concerned about him then take him out every 2-4 weeks and weigh him. If he loses more than 10% of his body weight then he should be seen by the vet. However likely he is just hibernating late and will be just fine.

I hope this helps, if not please feel fre to ask more questions.
Dr. Dan
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Is it detrimental to him to keep waking him up to feed him?
Expert:  Dr. Dan replied 2 years ago.
It is detrimental to wake him up if we know he is hibernating for sure. Since we are not sure he is sick it is good to check his weight. I have not yet seen detriment for weighing him and waking him but the feeding is the problem. When they go back to sleep their digestion slows or stops and so the food they eat rots in their system and becomes a mild to fatal problem. This is why they stop eating days to weeks before hibernating, to clear their digestive system. So I do not encourage force feeding him.

Dr. Dan
Dr. Dan, Veterinarian
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Experience: 12 years with dogs, cats, exotic, wildlife and zoo animals, PLEASE rate my service when satisfied.
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