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Nature & Science

Reasons Why Turtles Stop Eating In Winter

Image Source: Efirso @ Shutterstock

Do turtles really stop eating in winter? Yes, they do, and it’s because they hibernate! Let’s dive deeper into why this happens.

A turtle is an ectotherm, meaning it relies on external heat sources, and its body temperature adjusts to the environment. When environmental changes signal winter’s approach, a turtle’s hibernation instinct is triggered. If your turtle eats less as winter nears, it might be preparing to hibernate. However, continue feeding them until you are sure.

Hibernation of Turtles

Turtles that Hibernate:

Most Asian, European, and North American turtles hibernate. Species like bog, eastern box, snapping, painted, and wood turtles hibernate in response to seasonal changes.

Turtles that Don’t Hibernate:

Some turtles living in climates with stable temperatures may not need to hibernate. Examples include Florida, ornate box turtles, and spotted turtles.

Helping Your Turtle Hibernate:

Before allowing your turtle to hibernate, ensure it is healthy. Consult a vet to check its health status. Gradually lower the tank temperature by a few degrees daily, not below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Decrease feeding but continue until your turtle stops eating. Offer hay or damp moss. After about 10-11 weeks, raise the temperature gradually and introduce light to wake your turtle. Resume feeding at normal temperatures.

Duration of Hibernation:

Turtles can hibernate for up to seven-eight months, depending on their origin and species. The timing varies based on your location and turtle breed.

Image Source: Efirso @ Shutterstock

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