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Russian Tortoise

Russian Tortoise

When it comes to maintaining a pet tortoise, hardly any individuals know that there are a lot of different tortoise species. Among the most popular species of tortoise is the Russian tortoise; a little tortoise species that if cared for properly often outlives its proprietor. On this page we’ll cover everything you ever wanted to know about the Russian tortoise such as: bodily features, natural distribution, life in captivity, diet and proper procedures of care.

What is a Russian Tortoise?

The Russian tortoise is known by numerous titles such as Horsfield’s tortoise and the Central Asian tortoise. It is a relatively small tortoise, which makes it popular as a pet. Unfortunately, many Russian Tortoises are captured from the wild.  When considering a Russian Tortoise as a pet, it is EXTREMELY important you select one that has been successfully bread in captivity.

Physical Appearance

Like many species within the Testudo genus, the Russian tortoise is regarded as a relatively miniature animal. The females of these species have a tendency to be bigger than the males and can grow anywhere from 8 to 10 inches long where the men grow from 6 to 8 inches long. The proportions of Russian tortoises are not the only difference between the males and females of the species. Another distinguishing characteristic which can be found between the two genders of the Russian tortoise is the length of the tail; the male has a longer tail which usually sits to one side as opposed to straight out behind. Female Russian tortoises can be distinguished by the presence of flared scutes in their shells which are completely missing on the males.


Ideally a Russian tortoise that’s stored in captivity should be supplied with a diet of leaves and blossoms — commonly recognized as weeds and including things like Dandelion. Unfortunately for aspiring tortoise owners this sort of diet isn’t easily available on a consistent basis and as such captive tortoises are often fed commercial foods which don’t allow for optimum health.The Russian tortoise can live for an average of 75 years if they’re stored in a healthy environment and provided the ideal diet. The Russian tortoise is a grazer by nature and is most recognized for enjoying a version of broad leafed plants. Without the adequate minerals and vitamins in their diet, the Russian tortoise can succumb to improper diet and might experience stunted growth and general illness from an improper diet. Additionally it is important to remember that captive Russian tortoises shouldn’t only be fed any plant substance since quite a few plants may expose the tortoise to toxins which can quickly build up and become deadly. We will cover that in a bit.

Among the most significant challenges for the owner of a Russian tortoise can be supplying a varied diet that may keep their tortoise healthy without exposing them to toxins. Captive Russian tortoises also like hay integrated into their diet, hay ought to be chopped finely and may be mixed into many different greens so as to feed larger volumes to get a tortoise that’s kept outside and follows a natural hibernation program of the tortoise in the wild.

Hay and many different greens form the foundation for any Russian tortoise diet and offer a fantastic variation of nourishment provided that greens have been changed up regularly. Like most animals however, the Russian tortoise does enjoy a little something different once in a while.

Many times people think that because of the fact that the Russian tortoise gains much of its water consumption through its food, the tortoise doesn’t need water on a regular basis. While the Russian tortoise does require much of its water consumption from the food that it eats, in addition, it needs a bowl of water to drink from. Naturally, because of the environment in which the Russian tortoise is obviously found, the Russian tortoise is programmed to not waste water and if no ready supply of water is made available this reptile won’t discharge urates in the bladder. If a ready supply of water is deprived for a long time period that the tortoise can undergo a deadly build up of urates so it’s vital to supply fresh water on a regular basis.

Although it’s vital to understand what to feed your captive Russian tortoise it’s equally as important to know what things to avoid feeding your captive Russian tortoise. Lots of the food items listed in this category can lead to health conditions that are difficult to treat and may be deadly to the tortoise so it’s important that they’re avoided.

Avoiding Toxins on your Russian Tortoise’s Diet

The term anti-nutrient may seem confusing but it really refers to foods that contain chemicals that can build up over time and stop or modify the tortoise’s capacity to absorb nutrients from its diet. A build up of any one of those anti-nutrients can be deadly.

  • Oxalic Acid: Oxalic acid is found in several of greens you could be tempted to feed into your tortoise. Oxalic acid gives a sour flavor to these greens and are available in rhubarb and beet greens as well as mustard greens and spinach. Although this component can be found in mustard greens and spinach these components still offer a fantastic amount of nourishment and should be fed in moderation rather than removed. It’s important when feeding both of these kinds of greens which the tortoise receives adequate hydration so as to process the little quantities of oxalic acid within these greens. Without adequate water consumption even a small quantity of these greens can lead to kidney stones or kidney damage.
  • Goitrogens: Goitrogens are components that are noted for expanding thyroid glands and inducing goiters that change the tortoise’s capacity to take in iodine. Goitrogens can be seen in several of cruciferous plants such as kale and mustard greens. There’s some disagreement as to whether these greens should be avoided all together or if they ought to be fed in moderation but the general consensus appears to indicate no ill effects from a restricted intake of those plants.
  • Tannins: When it comes to tannins in the diet of the Russian tortoise that the secret is to feed them in moderation. A diet which contains limited tannins can offer lots of advantages to the Russian tortoisenonetheless, a lot of tannins can bind with proteins and change the digestive abilities of the tortoise.
  • Purines: If you’re knowledgeable about gout then you could already be familiar with purines. If you’re unfamiliar with gout you might not understand that this element is a contributing element to the development of gout in people. In tortoises however, considerable amounts of purines can promote the development of kidney disease.

Hibernation and Aestivation

Owners of Russian tortoises that keep their pets inside their houses sometimes question why their tortoise is busy year round because in the wild these reptiles hibernate. The truth is that Russian tortoises from the wild experience both hibernation and aestivation as a consequence of the climate and ecological conditions that surround them. When a tortoise is kept inside there’s a scarcity of these triggering factors and thus that the tortoise is busy year round instead.

Aestivation is something of a summer hibernation that the Russian tortoise encounters when temperatures become too hot for the tortoise to feel comfortable. Temperature increase is only one factor that may trigger aestivation, actually a lack of food resources and a lack of water availability may also bring about the tortoise to aestivate. If it aestivates, the Russian tortoise retreats to its burrow under the ground and remains there where it’s significantly cooler and the tortoise is more able to keep its body temperature. With lower temperatures and high levels of humidity that the tortoise can keep hydration levels and decreased activity levels means a reduced need for nourishment.

Should I get one as a pet?

1 question that remains unanswered for a few is: do Russian tortoises make great pets? Generally the Russian tortoise has the power to become an amazing and rewarding pet for the perfect individual; however, for the wrong person this reptile could be dull, troublesome and have too long of a lifetime. If you’re contemplating bringing a Russian tortoise into your home it’s important first to look at all of the information provided above on how to properly care for these animals. It’s imperative to comprehend the special needs of these creatures so as to supply them a humane life and consequently be rewarded with a healthy and happy pet tortoise. Maintaining a Russian tortoise happy and healthy includes all of the things which every other pet needs from their owner, veterinary checkups, a diverse and healthy diet, regular cleaning of the habitat, bathing and dressing, daily feeding and watering, exercise and amusement and finally an understanding of how to maintain this creature happy. Unlike a number of other pets however, the Russian tortoise can live for an average of seventy five decades, a life span that’s a lot longer than many people have staying when they can responsibly care for a pet tortoise. It’s important to comprehend the lengthy lifespan of the tortoise and to make certain you’re not just able to provide a wholesome lifestyle for it but that you’re able to plan for a healthy lifestyle for it even after you’re no longer around.

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