:: Hibernation: Some considerations.

The ancestors of animals we have kept in captivity for many generations come from all over the world. Before attempting hibernation find out what type of temperatures a specific species could expect in the wild. There is a myriad of information out there in books, articles and the Internet to assist. Ignorance is no excuse!

For many animals hibernation/brumation or a significant drop in temperature is an essential stimulus required to prepare the animal for mating by triggering hormone production.

Only animals that are healthy should be hibernated i.e.

Good body weight
Fully hydrated.
Free of injury
No mouth rot

Hibernation requires a certain amount of preparation and care.

• With heat still on reduce the amount of food over a period of a month. During this time also decrease the amount of time any light are kept on. A reduction in photoperiod also triggers animals to eat less.

• Two weeks before you are going to reduce the temperature STOP FEEDING, this will allow any thing remaining in the gut to pass through. If you do not do this anything in the gut will rot!

• To ensure the gut is empty, bathe the animals in like warm water. This encourages them to excrete any residual faeces.

• Over the next two week reduce the temperature by using a dimmer switch or swapping bulbs for ones with a lower wattage.

• The animals will become sluggish and will like to have plenty of substrate to bury and hide. Keep in at the reduced temperature as per the species natural wintering period, usually 8 – 12 weeks.

• Make sure that animals have access to water at all times.

• Check on the animals once or twice a week. Some species will appear restless from time to time do not be tempted to feed.

• If an animals appears to be loosing weight or body tone, then reverse hibernation, i.e. warm gradually, You may be tempted to take it straight from the cold to normal viv temperature but don’t. Absorption of body fat i.e. weight loss can give rise to toxin build up in the liver and kidney, which can be fatal, warm gently over a period of days.

• Once the hibernation period is over gradually warm up over a period of a couple of weeks. In this time also increase the photo period.

• When checking the natural climate also not if a wet or dry season coincides with the emergence of the animal. If a wet season follows give the animal a good misting every day.

by Karen Hollingworth