Top 5 Russian Tortoise Facts, Size, Diet, Weight

Russian tortoise

This tortoise with five other names the Afghan, the central Asian, the four-clawed, the steppe one, and lastly, the Horsfield’s tortoise. Due to its fascinating look and small size, it would not be wrong to say that it is the most wanted pet. It is currently declared as a threatened species in the family Testudinidae. Its scientific name is “Agrionemys horsfieldii.” These tortoises can be adopted from several rescue organizations across the United States.

The fact behind its name

Interestingly, how a single tortoise can be given so many names is a common question that rushes to mind, it might be because of the wide range across which it is spread. Russian is added to its name as it roams around Russia’s rocky deserts. Its scientific name and common name Horsfield is given in honor of American naturalist and biologist Thomas Horsfield. However, the relation of the two has not been declared yet.  

Russian tortoise 2

Russian tortoise subspecies

Three of its subspecies have been demonstrated, but their presence is not verified officially yet. Let me name them

  1. A. h. horsfieldii 
  2. A. h. kazachstanica
  3. A. h. rustamovi 

These three subspecies are found in different regions which will be discussed later. 

Russian tortoise classification

Lets have a look at its classification: 

Scientific NameAgrionemys horsfieldii
Order Testudines
SpeciesA. horsfieldii
Diet Herbivores
Lifespan 90 to 100 years.
Weight300-1500 g
Incubation period 80 to 110 days.  
Trophic levelHerbivores
Length 8 to 10 inches

Russian tortoise physical appearance

Its shell does not reflect a single color, but most of them are made of black or ruddy brown which towards the scutes, fades to yellow, and the body color follows a mix of yellow and brown. One amazing fact that makes it different from other tortoises is the presence of four nails on each foot.

Russian tortoise size

This tortoise does not have massive or giant size, but, when specifically talking about How big do Russian tortoises get? We can say that an adult tortoise has a maximum length of 8 to 10 inches. Baby tortoise is born with only 1-inch carapace length. Its size varies with sex. Females are slightly larger than males. A Female with a length of 6 inches is sexually matured and begin to produce eggs. Due to their small size, they easily adjusted to any place. 

Russian tortoise weight

Their weight amplifies their interesting features, Female tortoises are somehow larger than males, but in general, With a little weight, they turned put wonderful personalities. They can weigh between 300 to 1500 grams.  

Russian tortoise diet

Being a herbivore, it eats on grasses, succulent vegetation, grasses, twigs, fruits, flowers, lawn grass, squash, corn, leafy greens, seedless apples,.

Russian tortoise diet list

Always remember to follow a certain diet plan as most of the vegetables are not suitable to them and can raise serious health problems in their system. Some of the vegetables and fruits listed below are beneficial to their health thus consider giving these to your pet tortoise.

What to feed your Russian tortoise?

Make sure to provide them with food from non-poisonous plants. Always provide them food enriched in fiber and less in protein. Vitamin d3 supplements would be a plus point, but they are not required as far as they are exposed to UV light. Don’t forget to place water in bowls within the enclosure, so that they can stay hydrated. Can also give them a commercial diet, but it should not exceed 25% of the total diet. 

Russian tortoise lifespan

Little is known about its lifespan, but it is believed that God has awarded them the ability to gain the experience of 90 to 100 years of life. However, Just like all other species, it is also exposed to life threats. Let’s have a look at them!

Russian tortoise 3

Population threat

Since their evolution, they are exposed to population threats, and it became severe when the use of land by humans adopted advanced mode and started using land for their own benefit. Human imposed activities such as breeding, destruction of land, and other factors such as livestock grazing, farming, pet trade are playing their role in declining its population.

Population number 

Honestly! It’s difficult to say exactly how much these tortoises are left. But keeping in view the factors mentioned above, it is currently listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list of endangered species. 


Its main predators are dogs, wild cats, possums, and other animals of this kind. As it is always said, animals are expert at life-saving tricks, and it’s the same for this tortoise too. Once it feels endangered, it covers its body by its shell, thus making it difficult to be stalked by someone. 

Russian tortoise habitat

Along with African spur-thighed tortoise and Hermann’s tortoise, it is another species of tortoises occupying habitat in the Mediterranean which lies across the North of African and Europe’s South. This tortoise covers the areas from Southeastern Russia southward through eastern Iran, Afghanistan, and northwest Pakistan. It is found in the arid regions closer to vegetation. 

Russian tortoise hibernation

These tortoises hibernation remain active mostly for three months out of the whole year. When the temperature starts rising up, they start digging burrows 90-200 cm long and throughout the winter they stay inside them. They have the tendency to suspend or slow down their physical functions for about 9 months. Their hibernation ends up in early spring. 

Russian tortoise mating

After spending more than 6 months in hibernation, they finally raise up in the early spring and look for a mating partner. Male tortoises chase females and throughout the mating, squeaking sounds are dominant. Their mating season starts from March and ends in May or June. 

Incubation period

After successful mating, the female tortoise is ready to lay eggs, but before this, it burrows underground deep enough to moisture. 2 – 6 eggs are laid. The incubation period lasts 80 to 110 days. Eggs are incubated at a temperature of 30.5 degrees Celsius. 

 Russian tortoise baby

After the incubation period is completed. Hatchlings come out of their eggs in the month of August or maybe September, but, it may differ. Sometimes, they spend the winter inside the nest and come out in spring. 2 to 6 hatchlings may be produced in one season. The newborn hatchling has a maximum length of 1.25 to 1.33 inches. It grows at a slower rate and becomes sexually mature at the age of 10 years.

Russian tortoise baby care

Baby tortoises demand more care as compared to adult ones. However, if you have it as a pet, it’s your responsibility to properly take care of them. Feed them daily. Fresh and clean water should be available to them the whole day. Disinfect their water bowl daily. Soak them three times a week in a pan filled with warm water so that they do not suffer dehydration whenever the temperature raises.

Russian tortoise as a pet

The tortoise has always been kept as a pet. This tortoise also has a strong demand in the market due to its eye-catching personality, and charming look, and its small size adds a plus point. 

Russian tortoise pet behavior

The most common question that comes to mind whenever it comes to having it as a pet is, Is the Russian tortoise a good pet? And their behavior determines that. They do make excellent pets and responsive toward their care-taker. It is an active, outgoing, and friendlier pet. It becomes socialized over time with gentle handling. However, it does not like to remain in an enclosure with other tortoises. Its behavior with you depends highly on how you treat it.

Russian tortoise 4

Russian tortoise price

Most people want to purchase pets, but cannot because of their high prices, and here is good news for them. This tortoise is available in the market at a very low cost and that’s not because it does not make a good pet, but because of its small size. Their prices vary with countries, however, in the USA, it will cost you from $235 to $299.

Russian tortoise enclosure

For this tortoise, the enclosure doesn’t need to be much wider or lengthier. An enclosure of 4 feet long and 4 feet wide is suitable for them. The top must be covered with something when going outdoors to keep it safe from predators. It’s important for the enclosure to be covered with shade to save tortoise from direct sunlight in hot temperatures. The enclosure should be filled out with grasses, and plants for grazing. 

Russian tortoise humidity

It can do well at a normal room temperature of 60 to 80 degrees Celsius. But, the question Is, how can you maintain the humidity level for your pet? Inside their enclosure, they should have access to areas heated by the overhead light, and this part of the enclosure should not be more than 100 degrees as it could be too hot for them. Their need for UVB light should be fulfilled for the maintenance of calcium.

Russian tortoise diseases

They suffer from several diseases, but most commonly infected by parasites and respiratory infections. It’s not a very big problem in the wild, but when kept indoors, they can raise more depression and can be deadlier for tortoises. 

Russian tortoise facts

  1. They are land animals, and thus don’t like to swim In the water.
  2. They have a docile nature, and mostly children attached to it.
  3. Most tortoises have five claws, but it doesn’t. It has four!
  4. It has both endoskeleton and exoskeleton. 
  5. It cannot swim but can hold its breath for a longer period. 
  6. Female tortoises are bigger than male ones.

Russian tortoise 6

How long does it take for a Russian tortoise to reach full size? 

Generally, Tortoises grow at a slower rate. What-so-ever, this tortoise can be declared as fully-grown at the age of 20 years, and it can delay up to 30 years.

You May Also Like

About the Author: Zoological world

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: