The Russian Tortoise is likely one of the hottest pet tortoises round, and while you spend time with one, it’s straightforward to know why. They’re fairly energetic and pleasant and are nice pets for first-time tortoise house owners.

In case you’ve been serious about including a tortoise to your life, you possibly can’t go flawed with the Russian Tortoise. Right here’s all the data that you must allow you to resolve if you wish to convey this tortoise into your life.

Breed Overview

Dimension: 6–10 inches
Weight: ½–2½ kilos
Lifespan: As much as 50 years
Appropriate for: Newbie and skilled tortoise house owners
Temperament: Pleasant, energetic, social, personable

The Russian Tortoise does originate in Russia however can also be present in Afghanistan, China, Iran, and Pakistan in dry, open areas. We all know them finest because the Russian Tortoise, however they’re also called Horsfield’s Tortoise (named after naturalist Thomas Horsfield).

These small tortoises solely develop 6 to 10 inches lengthy and as much as 2 1/2 kilos. They’ve brownish-black shells that fade to a tan shade between the scutes, and so they generally go by the identify 4-Toed Tortoise as a result of they’ve 4 toes.

Russian Tortoise Traits

How A lot Do These Tortoises Price?

Picture Credit score: Haoss, Shutterstock

Because of their dimension and distinctive personalities, the Russian Tortoise is the preferred tortoise species in North America. That stated, the worth can vary from $100 as much as $800. How a lot you pay relies on a number of components, reminiscent of the place you purchase your tortoise (breeder or pet store) and their intercourse and age.

In case you choose to search for your tortoise in a pet retailer, be sure that it’s a good retailer with experience in reptiles. In any other case, whereas it could be costlier, breeders are very best as a result of you possibly can obtain a wholesome and well-adjusted tortoise from somebody skilled with the species.

No matter the place you discover your tortoise, at all times analysis the pet retailer or breeder, and be sure that you know the way to take correct care of a Russian Tortoise.

Russian Tortoise Habits

Tortoises aren’t identified to be overly energetic pets, which is partly why the Russian Tortoise is so common. They spend their time exploring their habitat via digging and climbing and might even acknowledge their house owners.

Do These Tortoises Make Good Pets?

Russian Tortoises are additionally common as a result of they’re enjoyable to look at and simple to take care of—so long as you already know what you’re doing. These tortoises are okay with being dealt with when it’s performed fastidiously, as they’re social and curious.

These hardy little tortoises can stay fairly properly each indoors and outside (climate dependent, in fact) and have an extended lifespan of over 40 years!

Picture Credit score: KOTORICHIKAPHOTO, Shutterstock

Russian Tortoise Tank Mates

Until you intend on breeding your Russian Tortoise, it’s normally finest to not home them with one other tortoise. Inserting two male tortoises in the identical tank will result in aggression between them, and two females will possible flip one right into a dominant feminine that can bully the subordinate.

Placing a female and male collectively will result in mating, and the male can develop into extra aggressive and begin harassing the feminine as a breeding time approaches. Most breeders solely put female and male Russian Tortoises collectively for transient intervals and only for breeding functions.

In case you nonetheless plan on retaining multiple tortoise, the tank have to be massive sufficient to accommodate every tortoise. There must be loads of décor and hiding locations so that they have locations to go which can be free from stress and harassment.

Care Sheet & Habitat Setup

Gentle Necessities

Typically, tortoises want publicity to UVB lighting. The bulb must be on for about 12 hours on daily basis and turned off in a single day so it mimics the pure 24-hour circadian rhythm.

UVB bulbs must be roughly 18 to twenty inches away out of your tortoise, and the bulb will have to be changed each 6 to 12 months.

Picture Credit score: Sean Whaley, Shutterstock


The temperature must be maintained between 70°F and 80°F (21°C and 26.6°C). There have to be a basking space, which must be about 95°F (35°C), and a cool facet within the enclosure, with a temperature at a constant 70°F (21°C). You’ll must put money into a thermometer to make sure that your tortoise is comfy.

Tank Dimension

In case you stay in a scorching and dry local weather, you possibly can preserve your tortoise outdoors. An out of doors enclosure must be roughly 4 x 4 ft for one grownup tortoise, and an indoor enclosure must be a minimal of 5 x 5 ft.

The tank will be wooden, glass, or plastic, however you’ll need to preserve it not less than 1 foot deep, as Russian Tortoises will be adept at escaping.

The extra tortoises you need in the identical tank, the bigger it have to be. The first purpose is to offer them sufficient room to forage and discover, and so they additionally want enough air circulation.

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You must undoubtedly embody vegetation in your tortoise’s enclosure, whether or not inside or outdoors. You’ll be able to add edible vegetation and herbs (analysis what’s secure to your tortoise), which is able to add curiosity and selection.

You also needs to place rocks and logs to your tortoise to climb underneath or on. Simply watch out to not have a climbing floor that can allow your tortoise to climb out of their enclosure.


There’s a little bit of flexibility with respect to the sort of substrate that you need to use with a Russian Tortoise. Mixing a number of substrates would possibly work finest. Many tortoise house owners want mixing sand and backyard soil with peat moss or coconut coir (coconut fiber).

Because the Russian Tortoise wants a certain quantity of humidity, it’s finest to keep away from substrate that may develop into moldy. The substrate must be not less than 10 inches or extra deep so your Russian Tortoise can burrow.

You may also add a number of massive, flat rocks the place you possibly can place meals and that can naturally file down your tortoise’s nails.

Issues to Know When Proudly owning a Russian Tortoise

Meals & Food plan Necessities

Russian Tortoises are herbivorous grazers and have a tendency to get pleasure from consuming broadleaf weeds. When saved outside, they may eat grass, weeds, and flowers.

Indoor tortoises will want a high-fiber weight loss plan that ought to embody dandelion greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, and kale. You’ll want so as to add calcium dietary supplements to their meals two instances per week or so, which will be sprinkled immediately on their meals.

You may also add veggies to their weight loss plan, reminiscent of candy potatoes, carrots, peppers, and squash. Feed them within the early morning, and keep away from giving them fruit, because it’s not a pure addition to the tortoise weight loss plan and would possibly trigger diarrhea. Treats to your tortoise will be roses, hostas, hibiscus, and mulberry leaves occasionally.

Picture Credit score: Juan Camilo Bernal, Shutterstock

Dimension & Progress Chart

When a Russian Tortoise lays eggs, it’s normally a clutch of 5 eggs, which hatch after about 60 to 75 days. The hatchlings begin off small at about 1 inch and might develop to 4 ½ inches once they attain sexual maturity by 15 to twenty months of age.

The Russian Tortoise received’t attain their full grownup dimension till they’re about 20 to 30 years previous, and they are often 6 to 10 inches lengthy.

Hatchlings 1 inch
Sexually mature (15–20 months) 4 ½ inches
Grownup (20–30 years) 6–10 inches

Lifespan and Well being Situations

Russian Tortoises are hardy pets with lengthy lifespans that may stay via a giant chunk of your life. They common 40 to 50 years of age and past if you take care of them properly. However all tortoises are liable to well being situations, the most typical being parasites and respiratory issues. Parasites are extra possible in case your Russian Tortoise was wild caught.

When selecting your tortoise, search for an energetic and alert tortoise with clear, vibrant eyes, and solely buy from a good supply.

Indicators of a sick tortoise can embody:

  • Swollen, closed eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Effervescent from the nostril
  • Wheezing
  • Lack of urge for food
  • Irregular shell development
  • Smooth shell
  • Irregular beak development
  • Free stool

Critical Situations

  • Respiratory infections
  • Gastrointestinal parasitic infections
  • Metabolic bone illness

Male vs. Feminine

Bodily, feminine Russian Tortoises are bigger than males; females are more likely to develop 6 to 10 inches and males 5 to eight inches. However the male’s claws are usually longer and broader, and so they have longer and thinner tails.

Males have a extra curved plastron, which is the underside of the shell. This makes it simpler for them to mount the females. Male tortoises additionally are inclined to have an extended and pointier snout, and the cloaca on the male is discovered between the center and finish of their tail. The feminine’s cloaca is close to the bottom of the tail.

Lastly, male Russian Tortoises will be extra territorial than females, however females also can present territorial aggression.

3 Little-Identified Details Concerning the Russian Tortoise

1. Russian Tortoises can hibernate for so long as 9 months

Russian Tortoises within the wild will hibernate for so long as 9 months (although normally from October to March) and reappear to eat and breed. Some Russian Tortoises saved as pets would possibly hibernate for under 3 to 12 weeks (or under no circumstances), but when their residing situations are insufficient, they’ll enter hibernation at any time.

2. Two Russian Tortoises had been the primary to fly across the moon

It’s true! Two Russian Tortoises spent 12 days inside a spacecraft—the Zond 5—in 1968. They had been the primary residing issues to circle the moon, and so they got here again in good general well being.

Picture Credit score: Yakov Oskanov, Shutterstock

3. The Russian Tortoise is taken into account a weak species

The Worldwide Union for Conservation of Nature has positioned the Russian Tortoise on its Crimson Record as weak. Whereas they’re frequent pets, the numbers of the Russian Tortoise within the wild have decreased because of the pet business.

Remaining Ideas

The Russian Tortoise is the most typical tortoise saved as a pet because of their social nature and the truth that they’re straightforward to take care of and enjoyable to look at. They’re nice for novices and specialists, are small in dimension, and stay for a very long time!

That stated, if proudly owning a pet for over 40 years is simply too lengthy a dedication, it is best to try different tortoises, such because the Pancake Tortoise, which can also be small and curious and usually stay for 30 years.

Nonetheless, in the event you’re enthusiastic about proudly owning a tortoise, you’ll have to be in it for the lengthy haul! With the Russian Tortoise, it will likely be a improbable journey.

Featured Picture Credit score: Haoss, Shutterstock

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