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Hello there, I'm new to this site and wonder if you could give me some advice. We had a tortoise years ago when I was a child... We have been offered a rescue tortoise this month and I wonder if you could clear a few things up (I'm a bit rusty!) We live in West Cornwall where the weather is very mild. i have heard of lots of people in our neck of the woods keeping their tortoises in the garden pretty much all year round... with a coldframe or a dog kennel for them to get some shelter and shade but no heat lamps etc... the rescue centre have told me they let their tortoises dig themselves into the ground in a greenhouse or polytunnel (which we can also provide) to hibernate. As far as I am aware they have a free roa,m and no UV or heat lamps where they are at the moment... I'd ideally like to give our tortoise the whole garden to roam so providing all is secure (going to test it out first on my mums tiny jack russell who is a great escape artist!) - I really just wanted to check that this sounds suitable and that we wouldnt be doing any harm by letting him have free roam, with shelter and hibernating in the garden through winter... any help and advice would be much appreciated! Thanks -
 

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I have a few that are free roam in my garden with a shed for shelter. They are all old and have never known any different. There is no way that they woud take kindly to being under artificial lights and enclosed on a table. If the one you are having is also used to this way of life then I would say leave him continue to live freely as long as you are sure your garden is 100% safe and secure.
 

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I may be seeing more into this than there is... but a jack russell cannot share a garden with a tortoise. One fine day the dog will identify the tortoise as a rat and kill it- it is in their instinct.
Please tell mum's dog lives elsewhere!
 

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it can work but only with a adult tort thats used to hibernating this way and you'll need at least 18inch of diggable, protected from the worst weather soil that doesn't flood. The tort needs to dig down to find a stable temp, we normally hibernate in a controlled temp of around 5c, much higher and the tort will be using its energy stores and below 3c for any prolonged period can cause it to freeze/go blind. There is also the problem of the length of time a naturally hibernating tort in this country has to stay down because of the length of our winters, you may have to wake it and keep it inside, I personally don't like mine going over 20 weeks and use the box method for them, by controlling the hibernation we have removed many of the risks involved so if I was you I'd do some research before choosing to leave it all to the tort. There are still deaths and only recently one died who was naturally hibernating, our winters are far longer and recently much colder than anything a med tort would normally have to cope with, find out how the tort has been hibernated before and my advice would be to stick with that. Can I also say that I prefer to have my torts safely shut up at night there are many predators such as foxes and rats that will attack them plus many are simply stolen also if the tort you are getting isn't adult size then the odds are you will simply loose it in a big garden and again a small tort would need protection from birds a tort is a nice meal for many large birds, a tort will also dig anywhere there's exsposed soil especially near the boundary fence or under bushes etc simply having a fence that reaches the ground won't stop it digging under and out, a big adult is easier to spot than a small one we have spent many hours trying to find a tort and have walked right past it without seeing. Now my adults have fenced in enclosures which makes finding them a lot easier with kennel type houses, they go in by themselves at night and are shut in and are allowed out all through the day.
 

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I may be seeing more into this than there is... but a jack russell cannot share a garden with a tortoise. One fine day the dog will identify the tortoise as a rat and kill it- it is in their instinct.
Please tell mum's dog lives elsewhere!
she didnt say she was going to let the tortoise live with the jack russell, she was just going to test the garden to make sure its secure using the jack russell as hes a good escape artist. also I know a lady who breeds tortoises and her old torts are all garden torts, they live out in her garden 52 weeks of the year, she doesnt bring them in at all and they self hibernate so I guess it just depends on the tortoise itself and what its used to. good luck with your new addition :)
 

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An ex-colleague of mine told me a tortoise wandered into his parents' garden about twenty years ago and stayed with them ever since. He never said what species it was but they'd taken him to a vet and he said it was a fairly old tortoise.
They live in Grimsby where they get good Summers and harsh Winters but the tortoise lives outside all year round, all they have to do is make sure he has access to water and he lives off the flowers and weeds in the garden. Apparently when Winter comes around he buries himself and then just digs himself back up in Spring. Sounds nice and low-maintenance :2thumb:
 

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Hello there, I'm new to this site and wonder if you could give me some advice. We had a tortoise years ago when I was a child... We have been offered a rescue tortoise this month and I wonder if you could clear a few things up (I'm a bit rusty!) We live in West Cornwall where the weather is very mild. i have heard of lots of people in our neck of the woods keeping their tortoises in the garden pretty much all year round... with a coldframe or a dog kennel for them to get some shelter and shade but no heat lamps etc... the rescue centre have told me they let their tortoises dig themselves into the ground in a greenhouse or polytunnel (which we can also provide) to hibernate. As far as I am aware they have a free roa,m and no UV or heat lamps where they are at the moment... I'd ideally like to give our tortoise the whole garden to roam so providing all is secure (going to test it out first on my mums tiny jack russell who is a great escape artist!) - I really just wanted to check that this sounds suitable and that we wouldnt be doing any harm by letting him have free roam, with shelter and hibernating in the garden through winter... any help and advice would be much appreciated! Thanks -
I can understand you seem to have some conflicting advice here. Is the rescue centre offering you the tortoise? Are you waiting for it to come out of hibernation? They are the ones to tell you how old it is and how it has been living all its life.

Tortoises can hibernate underground on their own and if they are WC tortoises they probably will have at some time. This last winter has been exceptional and yet my lizards that hibernate outdoors have come through, so why not a tortoise. I am all for animals living and eating naturally. Tortoises look for a dry area under trees or bushes. Once they have gone down, it is a good idea to cover the area with straw and a tarpaulin.

Having said all this, I myself do not let my Wild Caught tortoises hibernate this way now. I have gone a bit soft in my old age, especially with breeding baby tortoises! One old boy I have, did hibernate outdoors for several years but now the trees have been removed and he has a different area. I hibernate mine in boxes in a cold room, although this year I did have to resort to using the fridge method for a couple that woke early on. I guess we all have our own way that works for us. Mine also have pens on the floor of their shed for cold days. These have lamps. For many decades, they had no lamps because they were not in existance years back, yet the torts survived. If you have a large garden, then your tortoise may disappear and you will be looking for it, so I would not give it the whole garden. Also you will want to spend time with it and if you allow it the whole garden it will go wild and not need you. At the end of the day, you do what you are most happy with and what you feel is best for your tortoise. Hope you get it soon.
 

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:)

Good advice Barbara :), the rescue centre should be able to tell you all you need to know really so I would go with what they say as hopefully they will have the torts history and the best advice for you. Post us a picture when you get him/her, would love to see your new addition x
 
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