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Russian Tortoise Care Sheet
Testudo horsfieldii becoming Agrionemys horsfieldii
 
 

History and General Information - The Russian Tortoise is one of the most popular tortoises in the pet trade today.  It's popularity is due to it's small size(4 to 8 inches) and easy care needs.  The Russian tortoise is native to many areas including: Kazakhstan, Xinjiang(China), Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.  The natural environment is a very harsh one.  It is dry flatland with little cover.  The only cover available is small shrubs and grasses.  To escape the worst environments, the Russian tortoise will use rodent burrows or rock caves to escape.  They also are a very capable digger.  They love to dig holes and hideouts of their own.  They have a very unique ability that most other turtles and tortoises don't have.  The Russian tortoise has incredibly flexible limbs for digging.  You will be able to notice this next time you pick one up.  No matter where you hold them, they can get a claw on you to push against!  The Russian tortoise's natural habitat is so hot that at times of extreme heat the tortoise will estivate (go dormant during times of heat) to avoid death.  In times of cold, the Russian tortoise will hibernate(go dormant during times of cold) to escape extreme cold.  The Russian tortoise will hibernate below temperatures of 50 degrees(F) and it will estivate in temperatures of 95 degrees(F) or higher.

 
General Anatomy - The Russian tortoise is easily identified by its round shell.  It is described as being as wide as it is long.  It has a low domed shell(for ease of digging burrows).  As with most tortoises, the male Russian tortoise has a longer tail than that of the female.  The plastron however, is not concave like most other male tortoises.  The tail is the only physical way of determining gender.  In general, female Russian tortoises get much larger than the male Russian tortoise.
 
Indoor Habitat and Care - The indoor habitat for Russian tortoises is a very easy.They need a large Tortoise table or waterland tortoise tub. For substrate it is usually better to use a thick layer of  sphagnum moss, and coconut husk (Eco Earth) as substrate.  Russian tortoises love to dig so a thick layer on one side with a thin layer on the other will work very well for them.  Russian tortoises usually bury in the substrate, but it is safer to put some sort of hide house just in case they are too hot but wont dig to escape the heat.  Put the hide house on the opposite side as the heat source so you can establish a good temperature gradient so the tortoise has a few different temperature options to choose from.  Heat and UV light are two other items needed in a Russian tortoise tank.  The wattage of the heat bulb depends on many things: temperature of your house, size of cage, depth of cage, open/closed cage top.  UV light is needed to keep the tortoise healthy.  An Ultraviolet light with a UVB percentage of 7% or higher is recommended.  Daytime lights should be on 12 hours a day.
 
A water bowl the is as deep as the top of their neck for them to take drinks or baths.  Just make sure that the water is shallow enough that an overturned tortoise doesnt drown in it.
 
At night have a under tank reptile heat mat on 12 hours to dig down to. Be sure not to allow the tortoise to lay directly on it or be able to chew on it.
 
Diet - The Russian tortoise is an opportunistic eater.  In the captive habitat, Russian tortoises eat a wide variety of commercial foods- like Muzuri Toretoise Diet and Greens and Vegtables. Russian tortoises prefer broad leafy greens and some fruit, see out Salad chart for proper foods.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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