"You hear laughter breaking through, it makes you want to fart. You’re heading for a breakdown, better pull yourself apart. " - John Cooper Clarke

>Herman needs a gas mask.

>Burton very kindly asked after Herman yesterday, and quite rightly so. The poor reptile is being brought inside more and more, much to his distaste, especially as my window frames are being varnished as I type. I can tell that he doesn’t like the smell any more than I do as he tends to stay in his welly most of the time. And with October approaching in the coming two days I think that my pet who carries his house around with him will eventually stay indoors, night and day. Herman doesn’t eat much when in the house, although he does love a wander around the coffee table, something that the Twat thought to be a good idea. At least Herman hasn’t peed or shat on the table.


I’m actually quite troubled about bringing Herman indoors and absolutely terrified about hibernation. This will be my first time and although it looks all-so-easy on Blue Peter, there are several facts that they mentioned that are WRONG. Oh yes, Blue Peter got it wrong.

And how do I know this?

Via the World Wide Web.

You shouldn’t put your tortoise in straw as that can attract spores or something; the best bet is shredded paper. Whodathunk? Not me. Blue Peter was the gospel as far as I was concerned. Well, for a while. And did they ever mention starving off tortoises before hibernation? Or even weighing them during hibernation in case they happen to have lost weight? And ohmygod if your tort has peed during it’s time in a box which is now put into the crisper of your fridge, thanks to Global Warming, then get the reptile out. Quick. Shove it in a luke-warm bath as the poor creature is dehydrating.

Yes, dehydrating – Do.You.Hear.Me?

Well, according to the World Wide Web it is.

So Herman needs a doctor. Very, very soon. In fact, he needs one NOW.


  1. Posted Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    I’m afraid I’ve changed my mind about dropping in on you the next time I’m in Belgium – not with a tortoise in the crisper. I know you’ll be devastated.

  2. Posted Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Am I misunderstanding? Are you implying that the Twat has shat on the table? Surely not, not even in Belgium.

  3. Burton
    Posted Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the update

  4. Posted Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Gosh Belgium is a weird and wonderful place to be. Or is it just your house that’s a weird and wonderful place to be?

  5. Posted Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    That whole hibernation thing with tortoises in the crisper just creeps me out, and it has ever since Jaywalker first wrote about it. I just can’t imagine keeping a pet in cold storage for months – on purpose! It seems so nasty! But then again, I’ve never lived with tortoises. Only with tarantulas.

  6. Posted Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Pinklea, living with tarantulas is so wrong on so many levels. Firstly, they have too many legs.

  7. Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    Why not keep Herman awake in the nice warm house throughout the winter, and put Andy into hibernation in the shed…. oops! Sorry, forgot you haven’t got a shed. Yet!

  8. Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    “. .stay in his welly most of the time..”.
    At the rate he is growing, he will soon be ‘too big for his boots’.
    *groan* Couldn’t resist that.

  9. Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Herman needs a nappy and his own fridge and an alarm clock to keep him awake so he doesn’t hibernate and dehydrate.

  10. Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Is it normal in your house to pee in the fridge then? And you forgot, don’t think, ah, a crusty meat pie, and microwave him.

  11. Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    gg, Herman will have his own box. Two, probably.
    Debster, it’s the Twat that I’m worried about.

  12. Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Please do not microwave the Twat.
    You’ll NEVER get the whiskery bits out of the inner workings of the microwave after his head explodes.

  13. Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Blue Peter got something wrong? I don’t fell like I know what to belive in anymore.

  14. Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    I still like the idea of Herman in a nappy.

  15. Ed
    Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure we used to just let our tortoise dig itself into the compost heap for the winter. If you put it in the fridge, won’t it wake up every time the light goes on?

  16. Posted Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Ed, not if it has it’s eyes shut.

  17. M
    Posted Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I’ve been working with reptiles for going on 25 years and i’ve never resorted to using the fridge for hibernation purposes.lol I have a colony of ten tortoises that go under every year and they’re generally accomodated in large plastic tubs in a room that stays in the vicinity of 50F. Two of your readers made good points, however, there are caveats.If an animal is young or does not seem to be slowing down and stopping feeding, it is not generally necessary to hibernate it…in fact if it is under weight or conditions are not brought on slowly and maintained at the correct temps, you will do more harm than good, perhaps resulting in the animal’s demise. It’s not a difficult procedure but appropriate measures do need to be taken and adhered to. Rather than post an exceedingly long comment, I should pause an ask exactly what species of tortoise do you have? I can’t be specific as to substrates , procedures and temperatures without that. I’ll be happy to help if I can and additionally, point you towards a place where you can post your queries and receive the benefit of a community of keepers.

  18. Posted Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Thank you M. Herman is a Testudo Hermanni and only 2 years old. He (possibly a ‘she’) is already inside in his cage with a lamp, but he eats very little when indoors, I’ve noticed. I don’t know how much he is supposed to weigh, but he certainly hasn’t put on much weight since I got him in January (max 1.5gr).
    A friend of mine who has 6 tortoises puts his in the fridge for hibernation. I thought I should get his advice?

  19. Posted Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    My ex-wife had a tortoise that lived with her parents in Germany. As far as I know it’s still alive after over 30 years and has never hibernated. Central heating. If it’s warm enough and it’s got food and water, no need.

  20. Posted Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Richard, I know that hibernation CAN be avoided, but it’s not how tortoises live. Herman is inside, under a lamp until it gets really cold (and it does in this house because I won’t foot the heating bills until really, really necessary) but if the sun is out and the day is warm enough for me to sit outside in a top (no jumper), then Herman goes out too.
    He spends his summer outside but I get the impression that he didn’t hibernate last year so I need my friend’s advice. Or M’s:)

  21. Posted Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I’m no expert on tortoises or hibernation but I’d have thought poor Herman would suffocate in a fridge if he woke up unexpectedly and tried to breath. . . . .

  22. Posted Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Sablonneuse – he’s not supposed to wake up! I wonder if my cellar gets cold enough….

  23. M
    Posted Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I should have stipulated in my previous comment that you certainly can utilize a fridge to hibernate a tortoise, it’s simply impractical for my particular situation.There simply wouldn’t be enough room..and since i’m able to provide a place with ambient temps in a relatively steady 45F range, it’s never become necessary. I am personally acquainted with others who have had to resort to this due to living in southerly climes,but in my case it isn’t an issue. One thing you should invest in if you haven’t already is an indoor/outdoor electronic thermometer with remote wired probe with a min/max feature (the humidity feature is not necessary but nice if included). They are available for approx 10-15 (American Dollars) at most home centers or big box stores and are pretty much an essential piece of equipment. Guesswork is not an option when dealing with reptiles. You’ll use the probe feature for everything from measuring the temp under your heat lights, to the temp inside and outside of your hibernaculum. On a side note, its fantastic that you were keeping Herman outside with access to natural sunlight during the warm months. Regardless of their claims, the uvb fluorescent tubes are never as successful at maintaining the needed levels of uv for vitamin d synthesis. Tortoises kept outside for even limited periods always do better (assuming all other conditions are met.. adequate housing, avoidance of extreme temps etc). Another long comment. I have some links to some excellent material that I can provide if you like once I hunt them up on my other computer which could answer most if not all your questions and also give you the peace of mind that you’re not relying on the opinions and experience of any single person happening to comment on your blog.

  24. Posted Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Thanks for that, M. I used the ‘net intensively to find out the best conditions for Herman’s outside cage. It is big, has a large ‘pool’/water bowl, his own shed stuffed with shredded paper and a welly boot (heh) which he didn’t go into – I used to put him in at night when worried about the temperature, as well as plants. Herman’s favourite place was the roof tile which warmed up nicely and under which he could hide easily. (There are pictures on my flickr site – link to the right.)
    Now that he’s inside, he’s not that happy, but comes out of his welly when he hears my voice and has been eating a bit this week. I am nervous about hibernation though, I admit.

  25. Posted Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    AHA! I have discovered that Herman should not hibernate yet as he’s too young and doesn’t have enough body matter or whatever. I’d hate to kill another pet by mistake, and I do love him so.

  26. M
    Posted Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    You Can do that. The thing you’ll grasp is that there are not any absolutes.Sometimes they decide for you. You take a small tortoise or turtle that’s decided to shut down..under weight and you’re faced with decisions.Basically, age doesn’t determine your next step. If he/she eats with gusto as fall approaches and shows no sign of anticipating the oncoming winter and he/she’s young.. keep feeding. If it decides to shut down..hibernate it.