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Study examines risk factors to tortoises during brumation
The study found a 7.78 per cent mortality rate during brumation.

Findings highlight importance of monitoring temperature and environment.

Brumation in a garden and uncontrolled temperature reduction before brumation are significant risk factors for morbidity and mortality in tortoises, according to new research.

The term brumation describes the hibernation-like state that cold-blooded animals adopt during winter.

It is a natural part of many reptiles’ annual cycle, but it is also a time most associated with health concerns. Some of the most common include immunosuppression, dehydration, freezing or rodent attack.

Until now, little research has been carried out regarding the hibernation of pet tortoises. The hope is that this new study will provide vital insights that will allow pet owners and veterinary professionals to improve and support safe tortoise brumation.

In the study, researchers collated data on 270 tortoises from 252 completed surveys and used it to evaluate the potential predictors associated with brumation-related death and post-brumation problems.

As well as highlighting the risk of brumation in the garden, the study also found a 7.78 per cent mortality rate during brumation and that 7.22 per cent of surviving tortoises had post-brumation health concerns.

Scientists say their findings, published in Vet Record, highlight the importance of carefully monitoring elements such as temperature and environment for brumation. For example, owners being more vigilant in checking tortoises throughout the cold winter months and keeping heat sources at a height to prevent thermal burns.

Dr Joanna Hedley, a lecturer in exotic species and small mammal medicine and surgery at the RVC, explains: “Unfortunately, little is known about brumation in tortoises in the UK. We hope this research provides much-needed insight into the safekeeping of tortoises during this important period of their annual cycle and will support both vets and pet owners to best look after these delicate creatures.”

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Avian flu outbreak at RSPB Minsmere

News Story 1
 RSPB Minsmere nature reserve in Suffolk has confirmed an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza on its site. The coastal nature reserve has seen an increase in dead birds recently, and has said that it is 'extremely concerned' about the potential impacts on bird populations, with 2021 and 2022 seeing the largest ever outbreak in the UK.

In a statement, RSPB said: "We appreciate that it is distressing, for both visitors and staff, to see dead or dying birds at our site but we ask that if visitors see any dead or unwell birds, they do not touch or go near them and that they report it to us at our Visitor Centre during its opening hours, or by emailing us on outside of these times."  

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Moredun Foundation Award opens for applications

The 2022-2023 Moredun Foundation Award (MFA) is now open for members, with up to £2,000 available for successful applicants.

The MFA honours the contribution that education, teamwork, life experience, and travel have made to the understanding of cattle health and welfare. Through its charitable endeavours, Moredun offers its members the opportunity to pursue projects that support personal development.

The prize is open to a wide range of project applications, including those that include producing educational tools, conducting a small research project, or studying farming methods in other nations. For more information and to apply, visit