Tortoise species do not all hibernate. However, what about the Sulcata, often known as the African spurred tortoise? Do Sulcata tortoises hibernate? What does it mean for owners if they spend a substantial amount of time in a less active state? This article will help you learn more about how they react to cooler temperatures.
So, do sulcata tortoises hibernate? Sulcata tortoises do not hibernate, even when temperatures drop below freezing, as they do in the winter. As a result, they must be kept appropriately heated, particularly throughout the winter months. If the temperature drops below 63°F (17°C), their bodies will begin to shut down, and they will die soon.
Do Sulcata Tortoises Hibernate/Brumate?
During the winter, sulcata tortoises do not hibernate or brumate. Although they can withstand cold temperatures, you should not keep your sulcata tortoises in a chilly and moist environment or outside during the winter.
They require sufficient warmth because if they are exposed to cold temperatures for an extended period of time, their bodies will begin to shut down and die.
What Is Hibernation?
Hibernation is a process in which an animal’s activity and metabolic processes are decreased in order to conserve energy during the winter months or when food is scarce. Many animals, such as bears, bats, and tiny rodents, hibernate throughout the winter.
Cold-blooded creatures, such as snakes and tortoises, can, nevertheless, go through a similar process known as brumation.
Differences Between Hibernation And Brumation
Both hibernation and brumation are periods of inactivity during which an animal’s body temperature, respiration rate, metabolic rate, and heart rate decrease.
Mammals and tiny rodents, for example, hibernate for a few days to months depending on the temperature in the area and the animal’s health.
Cold-blooded creatures, on the other hand, brumate because they rely on their surroundings to control their body temperature. Reptiles and amphibians in the wild hibernate throughout the winter, lowering their activity, heart rate, body temperature, and respiration rate.
The main distinction between hibernation and brumation is that bromating reptiles will move on milder winter days in search of food and water, whereas hibernating reptiles will sleep through the winter and will not move at all.
Do Sulcata Tortoises Hibernate In The Winter?
If you impose hibernation on newborn and younger sulcatas, they might not survive the winter. Although many older and bigger sulcatas will survive a below-freezing, snowy winter, this does not indicate they will flourish in this environment.
Natural Winters For Sulcatas In Sub-Saharan
The coldest winter night in Sub-Saharan Africa may dip into the mid-60s, but the next day will be around 100 degrees.
The temperature in the burrows, where the sulcatas spend their evenings, is closer to 80 degrees.
Sulcata Tortoises In Captivity
Sulcata tortoises are thought to hibernate by many newcomers to the hobby. These tortoise owners most likely let their tortoises outside in the winter or keep them in freezing garages. They’ve undoubtedly noticed that their turtle has slowed down, isn’t eating as much, and isn’t moving around as much. These symptoms are typical of hibernation, but they also indicate that a tortoise’s body is shutting down.
Keep pet sulcatas warm throughout the winter in captivity. Keep overnight temperatures in the low 80s and midday temps in the low 100s if you’re aiming to replicate the natural environment.
You may either transport giant sulcata tortoises into a heated garage or basement to keep them warm throughout the winter. Alternatively, construct an insulated home with a heat lamp or an oil-free heater.
During the winter, lock tortoises out of their burrows and force them to stay warm in the allocated heated housing.
Stick to safe indoor temperatures for smaller tortoises that may already be housed in cages. Force hibernation on a creature that does not hibernate normally.
How Cold Is Too Cold For A Sulcata Tortoise?
A Sulcata tortoise cannot survive in temperatures below 45°F (7°C). Instead, during the day, the optimal temperature range for this species is between 77 and 95°F (25 and 35°C).
You should also provide them with a basking area with a temperature of up to 122°F (50°C). This will allow them to bask and get whatever additional heat they require on a regular basis. They’ll also have access to colder portions of their habitat, allowing them to chill off as needed. Tortoises can’t create their own heat, so keep that in mind. They rely on the outside world to keep them warm.
In addition, the Sulcata species is native to hot environments in the wild, particularly deserts and semiarid regions of northern Africa.
As a result, while keeping Sulcatas as pets, we must try to mimic their natural environment as closely as possible.
This may be accomplished in a number of ways. Whether it’s by way of:
- Ceramic heaters
- Tube heaters
- Reflector bulbs/spotlights
- Heat mats
They are all good options. Your tortoise can stay warm both above and below ground by using a mix of the aforementioned. Regardless of the type of heating you use, installing a thermostat will allow you to keep track of and control the temperature at all times.
Also, keep them a safe distance away from your tortoise. You don’t want to be hurt or get burned!
Finally, keep in mind that heating and lighting requirements vary at night. Sulcatas require a reduction in temperature as well as a transition to total darkness at night. The enclosure’s temperature should be approximately 65°F (18°C) at night, but no lower.
How To Take Care Of A Sulcata Tortoise In The Winter
Taking care of a Sulcata tortoise in the winter is all about fine-tuning and optimizing the environment to keep them warm enough.
If you impose the cold on your Sulcatas, especially the younger and infant ones, they are unlikely to survive the winter. Adult Sulcatas may be able to survive, but they will be far from ideal circumstances to thrive.
Sulcata tortoises are quite easy to care for throughout the winter. All you have to do is make sure their enclosure is kept at a comfortable temperature. You should not leave them outside in the cold, especially the newborn and juvenile sulcatas, because they may not survive the winter.
Adult sulcata, on the other hand, may live, although their circumstances are not ideal. You may just relocate your turtle indoors instead of exposing them to this risk and discomfort. This is known as overwintering, and it entails giving the tortoise with milder temperatures in an indoor setting.
1. Shelter For Sulcata Tortoises In Winter
Once the temperature dips below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, you should consider bringing your sulcata tortoise indoors. During the winter, you should keep your tortoise out of chilly garages or basements since the temperature might drop fast.
You’ll need to keep your sulcatas in a warm area instead. This might be a heated basement, garage, or any other insulated or heated space. Your sulcata tortoise can also be kept in a spare room.
It’s a good idea to keep your tortoise in a spare room because you won’t have to make any adjustments to the space. You may also construct an insulated home with an oil-free heater or a heat light.
2. Heating For Sulcata Tortoises In Winter
To keep your sulcata tortoise warm, use a heat lamp or an oil-free heater. You may then keep your tortoise warm by locking them out of their burrows and putting them in a special heated room.
You don’t have to force your sulcata tortoise to hibernate because infant and juvenile tortoises are already housed in an indoor habitat. All you have to do is stay to their indoor temperature range.
3. Cold Weather Safety For Sulcata Tortoises
Sulcata tortoises have a cold blooded nature, therefore exposing them to frigid temperatures slows them down. For sulcata tortoises, here are some winter safety measures.
Before the weather becomes too cold for your tortoise to make it to the enclosure on its own, check your sulcata tortoise enclosure to make sure it didn’t fall asleep outside of its shelter. If they are outside, you can assist them in finding a suitable shelter.
Sulcata tortoises do not hibernate, or brumate as the scientific word is known. This does not, however, make them less sensitive to cold and harsh temperatures. It really puts them in more danger.
They do not have the same level of innate protection as other animals. After all, it’s a survival mechanism. So, if you’re thinking of getting a Sulcata tortoise but live somewhere with chilly winters, you’ll need to plan ahead.
Whether you can afford to offer a separate and distinct warm environment for your Sulcata in your home (preferably a separate room), or you have an outbuilding that you can optimize for their needs.