Hello, My Russian Tortoise is about 1 year old. This is her first winter and she is barely eating and sleeping for the majority of the day. Should I be worried?


Don’t worry.  Slowing down in the winter is normal. They hibernate naturally this time of year so they’ll respond to the weather even when indoors. That includes eating less and sleeping more. You’ll definitely want to make sure the temperatures in the enclosure are the same despite winter (95 basking spot with 70 cooler areas) and check to see how cold it gets at night (they need the nighttime temperature drop, but you don’t want it to get too low). Also, a good idea to make sure your UVB bulbs are still good. 

One other thing to consider is the humidity change that comes with winter. Here in Massachusetts, the cold temperatures and having the heat on makes the air is really dry. That increases the risk of dehydration issues. In that situation you’ll want to add an extra soak to your routine. You can tell if they’re not as hydrated as they should be by looking at their urates (the white stuff in their pee). If you see a lot of extra dry grainy urates, that means an extra soak is in order.  Because it gets SO dry here (winter skin makes my hands look so old and gross…unrelated but true) I have a warm mist humidifier running next to the terrarium. It helps maintain decent humidity levels. 

So don’t worry, just generally keep an eye on your little shell 🙂 First winters are ROUGH for us humans. We’re still getting to know our torties’ normal behaviors and what changes mean, only to deal with a whole new set of behaviors that come with winter and are a little scary.   I panicked the whole time with Zoya, even knowing that some slow down is pretty normal. To be honest, I still get a little crazy. I hope this is reassuring/helpful!

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