This page last edited on

02 May, 2010



Russian Tortoises


Fun Facts

Russian tortoises are vegetarians.  Their diet consists of weeds and grasses in nature but they do well in captivity on tortoise chow, greens and certain veggies. They inhabit dry, sparsely vegetated areas in such Asian countries as Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and China. They can be found at high elevations and can hibernate for up to 9 months of the year.



  For my complete information on housing and food/water for Russian tortoises please sure to visit the links on the side. I just love my Russian torts! They were the first reptile I had and I quickly fell in love with them. I walked into a reptile shop one day and was just looking around and didn't expect to buy any animals. But when I saw several Russian tortoises I instantly fell in love with them. I didn't know anything about them but figured I could learn. However, after I set them up outside I began to feel guilty about my impulse purchase of these exotic animals. As a result, I met Erich from a reptile rescue group as I decided that I would rather take in rescues than buy them from a pet shop. I have now come to realize there are many, many reptiles being fostered in rescue groups who are in need of homes. Too often people, like me, buy impulsively. Unlike me, they tire of them and get rid of the animals whereas I keep acquiring more reptiles. I am pretty much at my limit though and don't anticipate getting anymore reptiles or any other type of animal. As you can see from the website, Dianes Zoo is full!


  My favorite Russian, Roama, is pictured above. She was never shy around me and readily enjoyed being hand fed. She loves to eat hibiscus flowers from  my hand as well as zucchini squash, lettuce and cactus.  Some of the Russians are certainly more willing to hand feed than others. I now have eight Russian tortoises, more than any other species of tortoise. Erich gave me Precious who was found wandering in a south Florida town. She was in bad shape and Erich rehab'd her and gave her to me. She had a deformed shell from improper diet, probably she was fed animal products.  Russian tortoises are strict vegetarians! 


  Unfortunately, my dog Herodeus got a hold of Precious, pictured to the right, and damaged her even further. Once again Erich rehab'd her and gave her back to me. She did well after that but when I found one of the male Russians trying to mate with her in November 2006 I noticed that he bit her pretty badly so I took her in the house to treat her wounds. She is a special needs girl!  Click the little picture to see her living inside the house temporarily until she starts eating better and seems fit enough to live outside again.  Her shell and leg deformities make her vulnerable to the males and other wild animals because she cannot draw her legs into her shell like the other Russians..  You can see a video of the male trying to mate with her in the player below.  You can tell by the photograph of her that her shell was not formed properly. A Russian's shell should not have the dip in it like hers does. The shell should be smooth, a slightly high dome and round. Her shell is flat, somewhat square and has a dip in it between the top of the shell and the side of the shell. I am not certain as to why she cannot draw her legs in all of the way. UPDATE December 2006: Sadly Precious died after Erich tried in vain to help her. We don't know exactly what happened with her but Erich feels she probably had organ failure arising from an improper diet for many years. By the time I got her she was well on her way to death. R.I.P PRECIOUS!!!


UPDATE March 2007:  Unfortunately, another of my Russian tortoises died on March 15, 2007.  I bought Herman from a local reptile shop in 2004. He was a runt for sure and unfortunately never grew an inch since I had him. I have since learned that the conditions in which these poor animals are put through to get to the pet shops is so awful that many don't survive. Those that do often have serious health problems as a result and die years later. I don't know exactly what happened with Herman and I don't know what his history was but I do know that I NO LONGER SUPPORT GETTING ANIMALS AT REPTILE SHOPS!!! Erich tried to save him but he was too far gone by the time I noticed he was even sick. Tortoises often do not display symptoms of illness until they are almost dead so the mortality rate is quite high, even in captivity. In the wild they don't display symptoms until the end to keep from being attacked by other animals who prey on sick animals. Also, raising tortoises from various parts of the world here in the United States cannot possibly mimic their natural habitat and diet.  Because of that, the tortoises may not be as healthy in captivity as they would be living in their natural range, eating their natural foods.  R.I.P. HERMAN!!!


  In August 2006 I got three Russians tortoises from the Wildlife Care Center in Fort Lauderdale. Two had bad shells that need some work. One was reha'b by Erich - he was able to eradicate the worms that burrowed into his body. A part of his shell on the bottom broke off and I saw worms in his soft tissue. He was obviously not taken care of properly by a previous owner. His shell will never grow back but it will eventually calcify enough to protect the soft tissue. He needs to be housed indoors for an indefinite period of time. He has a great appetite though!


  One thing I learned about Russian tortoises is that they are climbers and escape artists! This is the reason why the dog got a hold of Precious. Since then I have secured the pen so that they cannot escape. A majority of the time I do not see the Russian tortoises. Once in a while I will see one or two eating but for the most part they tend to hide like the other tortoises and turtles do in the pen.  In nature Russian tortoises burrow for up to 9 months of the year. In captivity in a warm climate like south Florida they don't do that but they will seem to disappear for weeks at a time. In the summer you see them less than in the winter or spring or fall when the weather is not too hot.  I rarely see more than a few out at a time.  Russian tortoises come from the Asian and middle eastern countries like Russia, Afghanistan and Iran. They usually are found in high, rocky arid regions.  If  you live in a cold winter climate you will need to house your Russian tortoises indoors. They do well here in south Florida in the winter but if it were to get into the 30s at night I would need to bring them inside. In captivity they are less likely to hibernate as they do in nature to protect themselves from the winter elements so you must do it for them.


  Aside from setting up proper outside housing, you need to feed them every day and change the water dish.  I make sure that I get a good look at all my reptiles when I see them outside to make sure they are doing well and have no physical problems. If you house Russian tortoises indoors - which I don't recommend unless they are hatchlings or during the cold, winter months - you will need a large enough enclosure, a basking area and UV ray lights. A trip to the local reptile shop will get you set up. If you can, adopt one from a rescue group and put it in a secure, outdoor pen like I have in the warmer months.


  Thanks for visiting the Russian tortoise page. I hope you will enjoy the video and pictures of them!





Click on Playlist to view the seven movies of the Russian tortoises.

Russian Tortoises


The male tail

This is the tail of a male Russian tortoise. See how long and curved to the side it is?



More pictures of the Russian Tortoises




Russians hate water but its good to soak them

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DISCLAIMER:  This website was set up to SHARE my OWN experience with my reptiles, guinea pigs, ponds/fish, gardens and local wildlife and to post pictures and video of them. It was NOT SET UP to offer my opinion or expertise on ANY QUESTION that I am asked and what I post on this website should not be taken as "EXPERT ADVISE" or how to take care of reptiles, guinea pigs, ponds/fish, gardens or local wildlife. I AM NOT A REPTILE RESCUE GROUP, GUINEA PIG RESCUE GROUP, VETERINARIAN, REPTILE EXPERT, GUINEA PIG EXPERT, PONDS/FISH EXPERT, GARDEN EXPERT OR WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR! I have limited experience with reptiles, guinea pigs, local wildlife, ponds/fish and gardens, therefore, I am NOT QUALIFIED to give out advise or answer questions and you, as a visitor to this website, should not take anything on this website as expert advise or accurate information.  I present this website for fun and fun only - NOT as a reference website to instruct anyone on how to properly take care of reptiles, guinea pigs, local wildlife, ponds/fish or gardens.  I share how I DO THINGS for my reptiles, guinea pigs, local wildlife, ponds/fish and gardens and this is not intended for others to take as expert advise or to mimic. Furthermore, my political views are my own and not intended to offend, annoy, hurt or demean any person, entity or organization. I express my views as an American who has the right to free speech under the Constitution of the United States of America. Please feel free to set up your own website and express your views, post your pictures and video and share with the rest of us in cyberspace what your little corner of the world is like. Thank you very much for your kind understanding in appreciating the value and contents of this website.


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