Unfortunately, of all the exotic pets currently kept in captivity a tortoises care requirements are the ones which are more often not adequately met. This is mostly due to owners not realising that since they were being heavily imported into the UK back in the 1960's, many studies have been done by experts into correct husbandry. This was after many older tortoises were being taken into vets practises with ailments such as soft, brittle shells, metabolic bone disease and other problems including inappetence, wheezing and runny noses. In the wild they were living to ripe old ages like 100+, yet in captivity they were dying well before their 50's. Experts understandably wanted to know why. It is now known that kept 'old school' without the correct lighting, heating and correct hibernation periods, tortoises eventually develop illnesses and suffer a decreased lifespan. The main comments professionals hear from tortoise owners is 'well she's been living in the garden for years with no lighting and seems healthy enough' or, 'he's been hibernating for six months of the year all his life and it's not done him any harm, he'll be 30 next year!'. Whilst this may appear true to the owner at the time, little do they know their beloved pet could be very gradually developing the onset of common illnesses such as MBD (metabolic bone disease) or RI (respiritory infection). Also due to the unnatural extended periods of hibernation, their pet tortoise will more than likely not live to reach its full life expectancy.
Tortoises are hardy. There is no doubt about it and unfortunately, this hardiness is the reason so many owners fail to notice problems until illnesses are well advanced and blatantly require veterinary attention. Left to their own devices in our UK climate, tortoises will plod along after having come out of hibernation in March, eating and appearing perfectly fine, until they go back down into hibernation late in September or early October. They hibernate for 6 months of the year. Wild tortoises back in their native climate hibernate for no longer than 3 months.
Most tortoise owners are doing the absolute best that they know how to at the time. However, there is a substantial difference between surviving and thriving. After the many years that have been put into studying tortoises, it is now known that they require us to mimic the environment to which, over hundreds and thousands of years, they have evolved and adapted to in order to thrive.
It is terrifying putting your beloved pet in a fridge, but it is hands down the best thing you can do for your tortoise. Your pets body will function correctly and will be doing exactly as it naturally should. They will be more lively in the summer months and you can expect to experience a huge change in their general well-being.
This is where we can offer some help for owners who are worried about the whole hibernation process, but are looking to do the right and most natural thing for their pet. Even if it is just to assist for the first year or two whilst owners get used to the whole process, to repeat hibernate for owners who do not have room for another fridge in their house (or simply just can't bring themselves to go through the process)... know that this service is now here for when you and your pet are ready to embark on the hibernation journey!
Prices can vary depending on the size and age of your tortoise, the length of hibernation (based on your individual pets requirements) and whether you have multiple tortoises. Please get in touch for a free personalised quotation on 07712532436 or at firstname.lastname@example.org