Eastern Long Neck Turtle Winter Enclosure

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saeag

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Hi All,
The vet just told me that if possible I should avoid hibernating my ELN turtles. As my pond is too big to heat, I plan to create an enclosure on the deck with an aquarium set up and a raised external land area. As this is not as nice as a pond from a turtle perspective (and my husbands perspective!) I would like to minimise the time they are have to stay in this habitate.

So my question is:
A) When should I move them to heated enclosure? Calendar/ Water temp / Air temp.
B) When should I move them back to pond? Calendar/ Water temp / Air temp.
C) What water and air temp should I maintain in the enclosure to keep them healthy but not shock them, as I will be transferring them from fairly cool conditions.

I am in North/Western suburbs of Sydney. Incidentally, how long do turtles usually hibernate in Sydney? I thought mine hibernated most of Winter last year (I could be completely mis remembering) but the vet said it should only be 3 (6) weeks?
Thanks,
SAEAG
[doublepost=1583226688,1582410014][/doublepost]I would really appreciate help with this setup before I make any expensive mistakes. Note: vet advised me not to hibernate any turtles but may have advised this based on a really sick turtle I brought in that had gone missing a year before and surfaced during a flood. I am not sure she believed me and may think they are all really sick ( this turtle is dry docked and on antibiotics so will defo not hibernate this year). Any advice would be really appreciated. Saeag.
 

Flaviemys purvisi

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How large is your pond and how large are the ELN's and how many are we talking?
Rather than set up an overly ridiculous and expensive setup on your deck, you'd be best just putting them in a temporary 4ft aquarium/s inside your house where they can be easily observed and their condition can be closely monitored. Use a canister filter on the tank to keep the water filtered and a heater to keep the water heated to 24°C. The ambient air temp inside your house will be fine it's not important... The important thing is that the aquarium doesn't have a hood or lids on it which will create humidity. Turtles and humid air are a big no no. A temporary indoor aquarium will be the cheapest and safest option. Move them indoors within the next 4-6 weeks and put them back in their normal enclosure in mid to late September.

Also, turtles don't hibernate, they brumate. Mammals hibernate and reptiles brumate, brumation is known as the hibernation for cold-blooded animals. Cold-blooded animals will move on warmer winter days and find warmth or water, unlike hibernators who are in a deep sleep and do not move at all. Estivation is another state in which animals are dormant because weather conditions are very hot and dry. ELN's are a temperate species that generally remain active throughout their geographical range during winter however they will cease to feed and their metabolism will be substantially lower.
 
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saeag

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Thanks. There are 4 turtles (excluding the one that is inside for vet treatment). 2 are 16 cm and 2 are 13 cm. I have a tiny house and noisy kids and no free wall or surface to fit 4 ft aquariums in the house. The deck is actually the same size as the house (we renovated this first) so while it will chew electricity it is the deck or the pond till we extend. I had the two smaller ones in the aquarium on the deck a few years ago until I build the pond so I have that much. With a heater in each end it maintains the heat - I never sorted out proper basking area though so I had to give them sun time each day which will be impossible for me in winter now as I work to far away to be back in daylight. I was thinking of getting a terrarium and using this as a basking area if I can jimmy up a ramp. A few of the turtles spend quite a lot of time wandering around between ponds outside so I don't want to confine them to a 4 ft tank with a tiny basking area.

Is it cruel/unhealthy to let healthy turtles brumate? The whole point of building them a pond and enclosure was to give them space and a more natural environment and I am concerned that the more I move them and interfere with their environment, the more chance I have of unintentionally doing them harm. They all brumated out of the water last year but I cannot tell if this was stressful to them or not.

If I bring them in at the start of April until September that is 6 months. Do they brumate for 6 months of the year or is this just when the weather starts to become less than ideal? The vet told me the brumate for 3 weeks in Sydney in the wild.

Again sorry for all the questions, I only want to do this once ( unlike the pond, which was poorly researched and ended up being 2 ponds, one dug twice with many amendments, as we learned that turtles are almost as good at escaping as rabbits).

Thanks,SAEAG
 

Flaviemys purvisi

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Anthropomorphism my friend.. your turtles will be just fine in a 4ft aquarium over winter. I personally keep and breed ELN's and my breeding adults have been kept and raised indoors in 4ft aquariums with tiny basking areas their entire lives since they themselves hatched, if these conditions were not completely adequate they would never breed and my ELN's knock out 3 clutches per season. Australian freshwater turtles are aquatic, they're not terrestrial like tortoises that need large areas of land to roam free. They need adequate water to swim and exist in and just enough land area to haul out onto to bask.
Turtles have existed for over 260 million years... they brumate in the cooler months, it's normal... not sure how anyone, especially a vet could say it's cruel or stressful for them to be allowed to do so.
 

saeag

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Thank you. In that case I will take everyone to the vet in a month and everyone who has a clean bill of health can stay in the outside enclosure like last year. Anyone not 100% can come and live in the aquarium, which I need to set up at some point anyway for when the dry docked turtle gets the all clear. SAEAG
 

Flaviemys purvisi

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Turtles that have good weight (fat reserves) on them are fine to remain outdoors over winter... just don't offer them any food (if you actively feed them yourself) from a month before winter sets in. Autumn is courtship and mating season for ELN's so as the weather cools you'll notice they'll ramp up their activity... (mine have all been mating like rabbits for a week already), when winter sets in they'll slow down and cease feeding. Once spring rolls around the males will attempt to court the females again but they'll be gravid (if mature) and not having a bar of it. Don't panic, turtles were doing this year in year out long before humans decided to keep them as pets, they know what they're doing.
 

saeag

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Thank you for all the advice. I have bought a second hand 6 ft aquarium with sump for their winter home. I am going to cut half the bottom out of an old reptile enclosure and stick it on top for basking. Figure that if I turn off the pond pumps for winter if will offset some of the cost of running it (at least that is what I told my husband to get him over the line). One final question, what is the best/easiest to clean substrate for a turtle tank (under water bit)? and how much calcigrit should I add to a 600l tank? I think I went overboard in the ponds.
Thanks,
SAEAG
 
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