We all know that turtles are cold-blooded animals that belong to the reptile group. Unlike how we warm-blooded mammals have different options to keep us warm, these tiny little reptiles have the only option of going into hibernation to protect themselves during cold harsh winter seasons.
However, do painted turtles hibernate in captivity when all conditions are favorable? Well, we will get to know all about it in a while.
Painted turtles do hibernate in captivity. You will only need to enhance the conditions for them so that they do hibernate.
Now, what is this hibernation I have been chanting about since the beginning? Also, how will you make your pet turtles go into hibernation if you want to? How will you take care of them when they are in hibernation?
Hold on! Everything will be answered.
What Is Hibernation?
Here are some points about turtle hibernation:
- Turtles hibernate during the winters to go in an inactive state so that they can reserve their energy.
- Turtles are “cold-blooded”. Which means that they cannot produce heat internally as “warm-blooded” animals do. Hence, they need warm conditions in their surroundings so that their cellular respiration and body functions can be carried on properly.
- Turtles are adapted and meant to hibernate. That is why their reproductive cycles also depend on it. And if you have a love and fascination for baby turtles you need to allow your older turtle pets have a period of hibernation to reproduce.
- Not only reproductive cycles, other aspects of the growth of turtles depend on hibernation as well.
How To Make Your Turtle Hibernate and Take Care For It?
Know The Initial Weight Of Your Turtle:
You will need to track the weight of your turtle during the period of hibernation. To do so, you will need to know regarding the initial weight. So that you can note if your turtle is losing weight in a healthy way or is it losing weight too fast.
- Use the scale that you have used in the beginning to weight your turtle during hibernation after every 2-3 weeks.
- Using a digital scale is better, for precise measurement.
Feed Your Turtle Plenty Amount Of Vitamin A And Fiber:
When you decide to make your turtle go into hibernation you will be needing to feed it increased level of Vitamin A and fiber. This is because turtles use up Vitamin A during hibernation. I have listed below some good sources of Vitamin A and fiber.
- Painted turtles are omnivores and they devour both meat and plants with equal interests. Hence, in terms of meat, a good source of Vitamin A for them is fish.
- And in terms of plants, you can feed your painted turtle leafy vegetables like broccoli, kale, mustard, and collard greens.
- Lastly, if the normal diet of your painted turtle already contains enough Vitamin A just keep feeding it that according to the regular normal routine.
- Alfalfa and timothy hay are great sources of fiber. However, you can keep feeding your turtle the usual diet if it is high in terms of fiber already.
Make Your Pet Fast After Plenty Of Food Supply Has Been Provided:
Undigested food must not remain in the tract of painted turtles. This kills them during hibernation. The undigested food needs to be completely digested before turtles go into hibernation by making them past 2 to 6 weeks before hibernation.
- Decaying of undigested food results in a gas formation that can cause the lungs of your pet to get suffocated because of pressure.
- Bacterial infections can result in because of undigested food being decayed.
During the fasting period of your painted turtle, let it remain in the water like it usually does. Make sure that your painted turtle is always in clean water during the entire period of hibernation. As by staying in the water, the turtle will be expelling its metabolic toxins from the digestive tract.
Bring Changes To The Temperature:
This part is an essential yet crucial thing that you need to know. If you own a painted turtle and you have been petting it indoors using an aquarium you will be needing to provide the winter effects artificially using the help of a fridge. Now, how will you bring the effects of winter? I have detailed them below.
- If your painted turtle has been living in water outdoors, make sure that the temperature outside does not freeze the water. Also, the depth of the water must be at least 18 inches.
- The temperature of your fridge must be controllable. Hence, choose a clean space of your refrigerator and place your painted turtle. 1 week before hibernation set the temperature at 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 18 degrees Celsius and let the temperature remain so for 2-3 days.
- After 2-3 days, lower the temperature to 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 15 degrees Celsius and allow it to remain so for another 2-3 days.
- Lastly, drop the temperature to 50 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celsius and your turtle will begin to hibernate.
- A series of temperatures have been set so that your turtle can adjust and adapt to the changes slowly. Also, the metabolism will lower slowly.
Preparing the Refrigerator:
Even if your turtle is in hibernation, it will still get affected by the external conditions surrounding it. Hence you will need to prepare your refrigerator accordingly.
- Check if there is proper ventilation in the refrigerator.
- You must be able to control the temperature of the fridge using the regulator.
- Make sure that the fridge you have chosen is not used by you often as opening and closing the door will cause the temperature to change or deregulate.
To sum up, using the guidelines above you can make your painted turtles go into hibernation and also take care of them during this crucial period.