Hibernation: Preparations and Tips

Before reptiles can fall asleep in the relaxing hibernation, you as the owner should take some precautions for the hibernation of your foster child. Therefore, find out here which preparations are necessary so that your darling can find wonderful relaxation.

Cold Temperature Regulation

Almost all reptiles have an alternating warm body regulation, that is, they are dependent on the ambient temperature and cannot produce their own heat through e.g. muscle contraction. They are also unable to sweat or otherwise cool the body. The annual rhythm controls the entire bio-cycle of reptiles and influences feeding behavior, willingness to breed, growth, and metabolism.

Preparation for the Cold Season

In the terrarium, our pets are of course completely dependent on us. If we do not ensure that the right measures are taken with regard to brightness and temperature at the right time, the health of the animal is at risk – even if secondary diseases can only be recognized with a latency period of several weeks. It is also not possible to completely change the biorhythm, as the animals have an internal clock that is influenced by parameters such as moon phases, gravity, sunlight, etc. Even if the temperature and brightness were kept constant throughout the year, the fosterling would begin to prepare for a cold rest no later than early winter. It can be seen when the feeding behavior declines, the animals spend the day very inactive in cooler temperature zones or dig themselves into the ground to rest there. In order to enable them to behave naturally in winter, the following tips should be observed – we give the animals climatic assistance for a healthy and species-appropriate life.

Winter in Autumn

Winter starts in autumn! As soon as we notice that the days are noticeably shorter again and the sun is flatter, we should copy this state in the terrarium. We can do this, for example, by reducing the lighting time by 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening and adjusting the timer. If several radiant heaters of different strengths are installed, the weakest should be switched off as soon as the total lighting time has reached 6 hours. By December at the latest, lighting and heating should only be used with 30% of normal power. Heat mats and heating cables should then be completely dispensed within the substrate.

Floor Care

It is advisable to clean the soil substrate again before autumn or, if necessary, to completely renew it in order to prevent leftover feces and fodder from slowly rotting during the winter.

The Menu

The feeding should also be reduced bit by bit, but increasingly enriched with concentrated vitamins. When it gets cooler in the terrarium, digestive activity also decreases. Food that is very rich in protein is more of a hindrance. Fat maggots, caterpillars, etc. should be avoided; Crickets and crickets are more recommended to prevent digestive congestion.

One Last Check

Before absolute hibernation begins, it is advisable to test a fecal sample for the presence of intestinal parasites. The trade offers sets with which a smear can be taken and sent to an institute by post. Shipping and the result of the parasitological examination are then included in the price. The other variant would be a preventive visit to a specialist veterinarian. This can also examine the animal for intestinal parasites. If these remained unnoticed in the animal’s intestines during the winter, they can spread to the immune-weakened organism and unnecessarily consume the animal’s energy. In severe cases, premature death can result.

The Winter Quarters

If there is a dark and cool basement room, this can be used as winter quarters for tortoises, for example. You should find out in detail which individual winter requirements each animal has. Your specialist salesperson in the pet shop should offer you competent information; the web is also an ideal source of information. The duration of hibernation varies from species to species as well as from individual to individual. Close observation is required here.

Young Animals

With very young animals, you should keep their hibernation shallow and short, because they are more susceptible to parasites and diseases than animals that are older than two years. But this regulation is also quite different. A chameleon with a life expectancy of three to five years, of course, grows much faster than a snake that does not become sexually mature until it is two to three years old.

Hibernation is Healthy

Overall, a sensible and healthy hibernation extends the life of the reptiles and promotes the species-appropriate care of the exotic species. They will thank you.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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