1. Home

Russian or Horsfield's Tortoise

By

Scientific Name:

Agrionemys horsfieldii or Testudo horsfieldii (Recently given its own genus as Agrionemys horsfieldii, but still commonly referred to as Testudo horsfieldii).

Common Names:

Include Russian tortoise, Afghan tortoise, Afghanistan tortoise, steppe tortoise, central Asian tortoise, four-toed tortoise and Horsfield's tortoise.

Life Span:

Around 50 years

Size:

Russian tortoises get anywhere from 4-8 inches long.

Feeding:

Russian tortoises should be fed grasses, vegetation and flowers of non-poisonous plants and weeds, and leafy greens. Natural grazing of grasses, weeds and plants (Russiantortoise.org lists edible plants) is ideal, but if not available feed a variety of greens (dandelion greens, endive, escarole, mustard greens, kale, romaine lettuce, collards) as well as hay (timothy or bermuda). Avoid fruits, grains or animala protetin. Supplementation with calcium and vitamin D3 powder is recommended.

Housing - Outdoors:

Russian tortoise like burrowing and they will retreat to their burrows in the heat of the day and at night. This means the fence of their outdoor pet must be sunk into the ground. The speces tolerates a wide range of temperatures but does not tolerate damp weather well so a dry, warm retreat is necessary. Daytime temperatures should probably range in the low to mid 80s F (higher 20s C) during the day, with a drop at night. A shallow dish of water should be provided.

Housing - Indoors:

Russian tortoises don't tend to do well if indoors all the time. Provide an enclosre at least 2 feet by 4 feet, with sand/soil as a substrate, ideally deep enough to allow burrowing. A basking spot at about 90-95 F (32-35 C) should be provided, with temperature gradient down to about 70 F (21 C). A hide box should be placed at the cooler end of the temperature gradient. A UVA/UVB producing lamp is necessary. A shallow dish of water can also be provided. Humidity should be about 60 percent.

Notes:

Russian tortoise naturally hibernate (but only allow healthy tortoises to hibernate).

Care Sheets Online:

  • RussianTortoise.org by Joe Heinen DC - resource dedicated to the proper care of Russian Tortoises.
  • Russian Tortoise - by Darrell Senneke and Chris Tabaka DVM, a good discussion of the care of this species.

Species Information

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.