I live in Albuquerque and my pond is too shallow brumate them. Can I use my veggie garden and dig a large hole back

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Customer: I live in Albuquerque and my pond is too shallow brumate them. Can I use my veggie garden and dig a large hole back filled with mulch and leaves for them to brumate into. I wanted to also have a large tub with water and a large wire dog crate to cover them and keep them from escaping. What is your advice? I don't want them inside because I leave for 1 to 2 months in winter. Help Mike
Answered by Anna in 1 hour 10 years ago
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Anna
30+ years of experience
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17,036 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Reptile Veterinary, Herp Veterinary, Exotic Animal Medicine, Amphibian Veterinary

Hello Mike,

Some additional information will help me to answer your question.

Do you know what kind of turtles they are?

What have you done with the turtles in past winters?

If this si the first winter you've had them, did they come from a pet store, a private owner, or did you catch them in the wild?

What are your daytime and night time temperatures like right now?

Thank you.

Anna

Customer

My turtles area red eared sliders. New from the pet store 1 month ago. Daytime temp 50-70. Nightime temps 30-45.

Thank you for getting back to me. I’m working on your answer and will post it as soon as I have it typed up.(I'm not a fast typist). Please don’t respond to this post as that can lock me out of the question. I’ll be back shortly.

Anna
Thank you for waiting. I just looked up the Albuquerque winter climate. The average day time temperature through the winter months is 50*F. That is not conducive to hibernation for sliders. You can't force them to hibernate by digging a hole and filling it with burrowing materials. Generally, as the temperatures cool to around 50*F, turtles become less active and stop eating in preparation for hibernation. Then as the temperatures drop below freezing, they bury themselves at the bottom of a pond, and go into full hibernation. when temperatures hover in the 40's to 50's, the turtles simply become lethargic. The result very often is sickness. You can read more about outdoor hibernation by scrolling down on this website:

http://www.reptilechannel.com/turtles-and-tortoises/turtle-and-tortoise-species/red-eared-slider.aspx

Even in the wild, many turtles do not survive winter. If the temperatures don't get cold enough, the turtle develop infections. If they go into hibernation with food in their stomachs, the food rots and causes fatal infection. If they haven't stored enough fat though the summer, they starve. If they become inactive at the pond bottom, but don't go into hibernation, they can drown. If the pond freezes solid to the bottom, they freeze to death. It is the most dangerous time of year for turtles. Unless you live in a northern climate with a deep enough pond, there is no way to safely hibernate captive turtles. Even in the a perfect set up and climate, hibernation is still dangerous.

The best solution would be to provide a proper set-up form the turtles indoors, and find someone who would board the turtles while you are gone, or have pet sitter come in to take care of them every other day. I'm sending along a slider caresheet I've written at the end of this answer. It will tell you how to provide an indoor habitat.

I know what I've told isn't what you wanted to hear, but I believe you deserve an honest answer. If you attempt to force the turtles into hibernation, they will probably die. If there is no way for you to bring them inside, another option would be to simply find them new homes. This link will take you to a list of New Mexican rescues and societies which may be able to help with that:

http://www.anapsid.org/societies/newmex.html

If you have more questions, let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope you find a workable solution.

Anna

If you are satisfied with this answer, please be sure to rate only SMILEY FACES to complete this transaction, or, if you are not 100% satisfied, click on REPLY and let me know what else you need. Thank you.




SLIDER TURTLE CARE SHEET

Well-cared for sliders can live 30 years or more.

The Tank

It's recommended that a baby slider have at least a 15 gallon tank. By the time the turtle is 3-4 years old, it will need a 60 gallon tank, so it's best to get the biggest you can in the beginning. You can also use a large RubberMaid tote. That's not as pretty as a tank, but costs a lot less. Set up the tank so there's a land area and a water area. Put the basking light at one end so the whole tank doesn’t get too hot. You want the water to be about twice as deep as the turtle is long. If the turtle is two inches long, you'll want four inches of water.

Temperatures and Basking Area

Turtles need certain types of lighting and need to be warm. Air and water that are not warm enough can lead to fungal and respiratory infections and unhealthy shells. Turtles must have a basking area where they can get out of the water, dry off, and bask in very warm light. The ambient air temperature in the tank should be around 75 *F (24*C) , with the basking area warmer still. Over the basking area there should be some sort of lamp that will take a 40-60 watt incandescent bulb (or you can buy a ceramic light fixture made just for reptiles). If you live in an area that has farm stores, you can buy a metal light fixture made to keep baby chicks warm for just a few dollars. Don't buy the accompanying bulb, however. You need an ordinary incandescent bulb in the basking light. Hardware stores sell similar fixtures as work lights. The basking area should be kept at 85-90*F (29 to 32*C). Use a digital probe thermometer to be sure. You can adjust the temperature by raising or lowering the light fixture.The lights that come with the covers on aquariums are not suitable for turtles. You'll also need a submersible aquarium heater that will keep the water 78-82*F (26 to 28*C).

UVB Light

It's extremely important that you buy an additional light that produces UVB rays. A Reptisun 10.0 is a good brand that does. If you choose another brand be absolutely certain it provides UVB rays. Don't take the word of pet store personnel, but read it for yourself. Full-spectrum, DayGlo, sunGlo, UV, or UVA are not the same thing. I'm putting a lot of emphasis on this because it's crucial to your turtle's health. Without this light, Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) will develop because your turtle won't be able to produce vitamin D. Vitamin supplements are not a good replacement for the proper lighting. MBD causes a very slow and painful death.UVB bulbs must be replaced every six months as they lose their effectiveness after that, even though they may still look fine. Light that comes through a window isn't sufficient because the glass filters out most of the rays turtles need to stay healthy. To prevent MBD, turtles also need calcium. The easiest way to provide it is to place a cuttlebone in the tank. Cuttlebones are sold in bird departments of pet stores.

Filtration

Turtles are very sensitive to water quality. Even if you change the water every day, it can still contain harmful chemicals. A good filtration system is essential. Water changes are also needed even with a filter. If the tank is too small, no filter can keep up with the amount of waste that turtles produce.

Feeding

Feeding is an area where pet stores often give out bad information. Commercial food should make up only 1/4 of the diet. Animal products (cooked meat, earthworms, canned cat food) should make up another 1/4. The remaining half should be plant foods (dark lettuce like romaine, bits of strawberry or melon, etc.). Hatchlings should be fed every day. Older turtles should be fed 3 times per week. Overfeeding can lead to gout and kidney failure.

For Further Reading

This is among the most reputable sites on turtles.


http://www.austinsturtlepage.com/Care/caresheet-red_ear_slider.htm



Hi Mike, I'm just following up on our conversation about Mr And Mrs T. How is everything going? MsAM
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