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Can I hibernate my box turtles outside in winter?

Wood turtle hunts for a winter hideaway. (Photo: Flickr/Richard Bonnett)

Can I hibernate my box turtles outside in winter?

October 02, 2012

Q: I live in Iowa -- can I still hibernate my turtles and tortoises outside? I can keep them dry, but I worry about below zero temperatures. I have box and wood turtles, desert tortoises, and a few yellow-bellied cooters.

A: It sounds like you have quite a collection. With the assortment you have and to meet their needs I would say that you would be best served to hibernate the turtles in the house.

The boxies and desert tortoises can be put in a dark closet for the winter. As for the wood turtles and cooters you can decrease the lighting to a 6-hour cycle and cool them down.

This is a good site for the boxies, and this site covers hibernating details for several different species.

The problem with Iowa is that the winter could be mild like last year, or brutal like this year is predicted to be. It may be wise to set up a basement or room for hibernation inside. I am very concerned because I have been reading that this is going to be a very cold winter throughout North America and Europe.

-- Answer from Joan Vokes, reptile rescue specialist on JustAnswer.

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