Russian Tortoise Care

Russian Tortoise Care

The Russian tortoise a.k.a Horsefields tortoise or Central Asian tortoise, but has a binomial name of testudo horsefieldii /agrionymys horsefieldii is species of tortoise commonly found in sandy clayey areas of Central Asia (as in parts china, Iran, Afganistan , Pakistan, Uzbekistan). These reptilians are very small and are sexually dimorphic which means that the females of this species are slightly larger than the males at an average the adult female varies from 8″ to 10″ where as the males are somewhere between 6″ to 8″ with longer tails which are usually tucked sideways . The scutes on the female are flared while the males do not possess any such feature. Other features which help differentiate between a male and a female are their bottom half of the shell the males have a concave bump on theirs which help them to mount the female while copulating. They live for about 30+ years and spending a fairly large portion of their life under hibernation. They have an annual hibernation period of about 9 month and are active only during the summers. These creatures are very popular as pets and are mainly imported from Uzbekistan.

So if you have one these unique creatures you need to know how to take care of them so they can live a healthy and long life (And by long i mean enough to put them in your wills for the next generation).

As being fairly popular as pets these creatures need proper care which includes proper diet and habitat. As per their natural diet these animals are grazers and will eat most weeds ,broad leaf plants and flowers.

Following are foods which are optimum for a pet Russian tortoise and can be bought from a grocery store

List of Good Foods for Your Russian Tortoise

  • Radicchio
  • Turnip greens
  • Mustard leaves
  • Cabbage etc

It is a popular belief that these animals naturally acquires all its body fluid requirement through what it eats and hence they wont need any additional drinking water . these animal are actually adapted to semi- arid environment and it has an excretory system that eliminates the waste through uric acid instead of urea which proves the theory as uric acid uses much less water compared to urea to expel all the waste material out of the body. These tortoises naturally don’t use the water present in their bladders to expel the urates and are very good at conservation of water in their body. If these animals are deprived of water, their urate levels could rises to very dangerous levels .So they have to expel these urates as soon as they get replenishment of water. A thirsty Russian tortoise when provided with water would pee and drink water at the same time.

So now that you know what are these things are unless you already have one then of course you already know about them or you own one and had no idea what it was ,so now you have some!

Well, its time we tell you to take care of one of these animals.

First of all these are nothing like an average house pet , you don’t have to worry about them running away because they are slow and by that i mean wicked slow like every tortoise although they could get lost as they are really small roughly about the size of an average gunnea pig. You don’t necessarily need to put them in a cage as they do just fine in a regular garden , but if you do then these are some rules you should follow

  • the cage/ bucket you put the tortoise in in should filled with loamy/clayey soil and some play sand.
  • try to fill the place with some plants, preferably the ones with broad leaves
  • Put a light source about the place as long as it doesnt effect the temperature
  • Lights should only be on 12 - 14 hours
  • Temperature should be maintained between 70 and 90 degrees F
  • Humidity should be maintained between 50 - 70%

That was it for the type of habitat you build for them if you decide to get one or you are a lazy owner of one. But what do we feed them? this would have been easier if we could find a can named tortoise food from a pet store but apparently we don’t have such things. But lucky for you a Russian tortoise care is fairly easy as it would eat most green plants.

Now remember these animals would eat a lot in a short period of time so you don’t need to feed it all day long. You could occasionally feed it with lettuce and cabbage but they will easily eat what eat whatever plantation that grows in your garden and if you don’t have a garden you could just give it some mustard leaves or any other type of easily available broad leaves.

Here is a list of foods you should avoid giving to it

  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Dog food
  • Cat food
  • Meat
  • Almost all human food except for the ones listed or mentioned above

There is one important thing you should know , these are hibernating animals and in wild they would hibernate for 3/4th of the year from October to march. But in captivity they are observed to hibernate about 8 weeks at an average. So while they hibernate the temperature should be maintained between 40-45 degree fahrenheit unless it is already cold because normally that’s when they go to hibernation.

Take your tortoise to the vet for for regular health check ups just to be on the precautionary side.

You can provide water to it on a daily basis and the tortoise will consume the water as per its requirement.

So those were the basic things you need to know about Russian tortoise care and hopefully yours will live a long and slow life i mean a happy life. Ifs you are looking to buy one , its will cost you about 40$ to 50$.

May you and your tortoise be happy forever or till one of you dies of natural causes.

Another Video on caring for your Russian Tortoise