Our tortoise Ned had never been hibernated before...so it felt like a big risk (and a little weird) to put him in the fridge!
We suspected he was ready to hibernate when he slowed right down at the end of October (he's normally pretty nifty!) and stopped eating. We had to wait until he had not eaten anything for 2-3 weeks - to ensure that he had no undigested food in his tortoise tummy.
We finally took the plunge in November. Every day since then we've dutifully opened the fridge door for a few seconds each day to make sure he had enough oxygen, and occasionally given the box a little nudge just to check he was alive.
It was crucial to make sure the temperature was exactly right and constant (which is why an empty fridge works so well). We had to make ensure that the workshop temperature didn't change too much either - so a toasty workshop was fully justified!
If all the conditions are right then the tortoise's metabolic rate slows down and he can sleep until the spring. If there's any food in his tummy, or the temperature fluctuates then there's a good chance he'll die during hibernation (very common).
Waking a tortoise up can also be tricky - the sleepy tortoise needs to warm up quite quickly and needs to drink to get rid of any toxins.
If he hasn't eaten within a week of waking then you're in trouble! I'm pleased to report that Ned woke up really quickly, enjoyed his spa and had a good munch on an apple this afternoon. Think we might just have managed a successful hibernation! (thank goodness)
Ned is quite the adventurer (he was stuck on that hoover for about 20 minutes!), really nippy round the kitchen and fascinating to watch....so glad he's back.