Russian Tortoise Care Guide: Your A-Z Beginner Friendly Cheat Sheet

An adorable little turtle, the Russian turtle or Agrionemys horsfieldii (opens in new tab) is an excellent pet for first-time exotic pet owners and experienced professionals.

These little turtles can only grow to reach 5 to 10 inches in lengthThis makes them much easier to care for than the giant turtle Aldabra, which can weigh 550 pounds!

What you will learn in this Russian turtle care sheet:

  • Background information on Russian turtles
  • Where can you buy a healthy Russian turtle?
  • Relative cost of a Russian tortoise
  • Proper nutrition for all ages
  • How to properly set up a Russian turtle enclosure
  • Health concerns to consider (and how to prevent them!)
  • Tips for handling and gluing
  • & So much more!

As a forgiving reptile, Russian turtles simply retreat to their dens to avoid inhospitable climates. They wait until the ideal temperature is reached before they appear.

If you don’t see your turtle for a long time, there is a good chance that the temperature of the case will need to be adjusted.

If you’re interested in adding a delightful pocket-sized turtle to your family, you should first brush up on your knowledge of Russian turtles to make sure you create the right habitat for your new friend.

If you want to discover novel turtle nutrition options, this extensive Russian turtle care sheet has plenty of delicious vegetables to add to your pet’s diet.

Read on to find out everything you need to know to take good care of your Russian turtle.

Background information on the Russian turtle

As an avid excavator, you can expect your Russian turtle to create burrows for you to spend most of the day, especially when it’s hot. You will most likely see your turtle come out and be active at dawn and dawn.

Russian turtles are common pet reptiles native to Central Asia, especially Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran.

Although there are numerous pets and breeders worldwide, they are actually Russian turtles shortly before extinction in their natural habitat. Even though they are such a common pet, they have not become an invasive species outside of their home, probably due to their specific habitat needs, which are difficult to find elsewhere.

In addition to the nickname “Russian Tortoise”, there are a number of other common names, including Afghan tortoise, steppe tortoise, Horsfield tortoise and Central Asian tortoise.

Thrive in arid, dry environments with low rainfall, Russian turtles are common in steppes, deserts, hills and meadows.

In these harsh, dry environments, the weather can vary from one extreme to the other, forcing the turtles to retreat into their burrows for months.

These tiny turtles are 5 to 10 inches long with the females of the species reaching the larger side of the range. This larger size allows the female to hold a lot of eggs in her body; Each clutch consists of up to five eggs.

With proper care, these little reptiles can live up to 40 yearsThis makes them a long-term but enjoyable engagement.

A Russian turtle’s shell usually has a reddish brown or black color that glows yellow between the grooves. Depending on the subspecies, the body has a straw yellow or brown color.

Another recognizable feature of the Russian turtle is that it has four claws on each foot, which are used for climbing and digging. This is a characteristic that is not always found in other turtles. Therefore, it is an excellent way to distinguish this type from others.

Knowing that a Russian turtle is an ideal pet for beginners or lifelong reptile lovers, you should set cash aside before making a turtle purchase.

These tiny turtles can range from $ 75 to $ 200, depending on size, age and gender. In addition, Building the perfect case can cost an additional $ 200 or more.

Fortunately, Food costs are relatively low. If you are able to choose a healthy turtle as a pet, the veterinary cost for a new pet checkup and the deworming or care needed should be less than $ 100.

All in all, you should spend about $ 500 on your new pet and living space facility.

Once you’ve saved money on your charming new turtle? Well, it’s time to shop (see the next section)!

🔑 Russian turtle background key to take away: Russian turtles are native to the arid environments of Central Asia and India Grow to be 5-1o inches long, with women tending to be taller than men. When it comes to lifespan, A well-groomed Russian turtle can live up to 40 years! When shopping for a Russian turtle, Expect at least $ 500 on your turtle and its shell configuration.

Where to buy a Russian turtle

Where to buy Russian turtlesAs with other reptile species, it is best to find a private breeder to get a healthy pet. Small mom and pop pet stores are also a good choice, but you’ll struggle to find one that knows turtles as well as a private breeder who can provide a wealth of knowledge and advice to first-time owners.

The most common place to buy a Russian turtle is a pet store. However, it may not be the best choice.

If you’re looking for a pet store, don’t choose one just because they carry Russian turtles! Take a look around the entire store first and take a good breath when you walk through the door.

Does it smell and does it look clean?

Next, make a quick stop at the aquariums. Do the fish appear healthy or do dead fish swim in the tanks?

See the section on exotic pets and check the cleanliness and apparent health of the animals. Discuss the care and maintenance of Russian turtles with the pet shop staff.

While many pet stores, especially chain stores, do NOT have the best knowledge of the creatures in their care, family-owned small pet stores can be a wonderful source of information and pet supplies in the future. These types of pet stores are the best way to buy your new turtle.

Another popular option for buying turtles is reptile exhibitions. Many large cities host monthly shows with a variety of vendors selling live animals and supplies. Unfortunately, you can encounter the same problem here as in pet shops …

Some providers are CLEAR, while others know little about their pets or supplies.

Another disadvantage of reptile exposure is the narrow living space with other species, which can lead to cross-contamination or health problems.

If this is your first time owning turtles, a reptile exhibition may not be the best place to buy your new pet. However, it can be a wonderful way to visit different breeders and see reptiles in person before making an online purchase.

Some of the most competent breeders can be found online. Many of these reputable breeders even offer a health guarantee if they buy one of their animals.

The only downside to buying a turtle online is that you can’t see the animal in person first.

How to choose a healthy Russian turtle

When choosing your new pet, keep a few factors in mind to ensure that you buy a healthy pet.

Check the following criteria when examining your potential new turtle:

  • Is the turtle active?
  • Does the turtle feel like an empty shell when you hold it?
  • Do you hear croaking or gurgling noises when you listen to the turtle breathing?
  • Is the bowl relatively smooth or lumpy?
  • Does the bowl have white spots, soft areas or spots with a bad smell?
  • Are the eyes a shiny, clear black? Or are they boring, sunken or full of slime?
  • Is the nose dry and clean or are there blisters or a plug of mucus?
  • Are the toenails overgrown?
  • Is the tail clean and dry or crusted with feces?

If you are not at all sure about the health of a potential new pet, avoid impulse buying and wait until you find a healthy pet instead.

🔑 Purchase of important takeaways for Russian turtles: If you want to buy a Russian turtle, there are three main options: chain pet store, private breeder, pet show or mom and pop pet store. Don’t be afraid of it Be very critical of chains and expos how. Ideally, you will find a private breeder who breeds the healthiest turtles. Be careful when looking for a turtle Examine the shell, breathing, face, toenails, tail, and activity level BEST measure his overall health.

Russian turtle diet and feeding guidelines

Russian turtle diet and feeding guidelinesAlthough Russian turtles love pretty much everything green, they can become picky eaters if they offer the same thing every day. Therefore, you often want to really confuse your diet. Try changing the base of your food every few days. For example, the basis for 2-3 days is mainly spring mix with vegetables other than topping, then it turns into mustard green and so on.

The Russian turtle is a grazing animaland they show this natural behavior by eating large amounts of weeds, leaves and flowers before returning to hibernation.

This turtle hibernates in the cold months and can also have an aesthetic effect because it is uncomfortable at high temperatures.

The term Aestheticization refers to a semi-conscious sleep period in summer, while the term hibernation refers to a semi-conscious sleep period in winter.

What do Russian turtles eat?

Russian turtles enjoy broad-leaved plants as pastures, and dandelions are a favorite. When buying food in a grocery store, ideally all food should be organic and free of pesticides.

Your turtle can enjoy the following fresh foods:

  • Romaine lettuce (occasionally fed)
  • Red and green leaf lettuce (occasionally fed)
  • endive
  • Escarole
  • Radicchio
  • chicory
  • Beet green
  • Mustard green
  • Kale
  • Collards
  • Spring mix (mixed lettuce green)
  • Cabbage (occasionally fed)

Using multiple vegetables is IDEAL in a Russian turtle diet to provide as many vitamins and nutrients as possible.

Form the basis for your pet’s diet with the greens mentioned above and complement it with the following flowers:

  • hibiscus
  • Hosta
  • Sedum
  • Mulberry leaves
  • Hen and chick
  • Ice plants
  • Prickly pear flowers, fruit and bandages
  • dandelion
  • mallow
  • Henbit
  • rose
  • Chrysanthemum flowers
  • Cornflowers
  • Forsythia

If your turtle lives indoors, consider growing your own leafy greens. This ensures that you have a fresh supply of pesticide-free food for your turtle.

Do not feed your turtle meat, cereals, and nutrient-poor foods like iceberg lettuce. Fruit is another item that should be left out of your turtle’s menu, as eating fruit can cause parasite blooms.

Russian turtle supplements

For turtles that are not constantly exposed to the sun, you should dust the feed with a calcium supplement daily.

When it comes to a multivitamin, you should use one that contains vitamin D3. This should be sprinkled on the food once or twice a week.

Russian turtle needs water

As a dry species Much of the water in a Russian turtle can be obtained from its food. However, you still need a large, flat pan of water.

They often use water to keep eyes and nose clean and to regulate body temperature.

To meet your turtle’s needs, provide a flat pan large enough to comfortably fit your pet. A good rule of thumb when filling your turtle’s water bowl is that the water should not be higher than the point where the shell and plastron meet.

Turtles generally empty and urinate while soaking in their tub Change the water frequently to keep it clean.

Adults usually need a good bath once a week, while kittens need to soak daily.

How often you feed your Russian turtle

When you feed your turtle, Provide as much food as your pet can eat ONCE a day in 20 minutes. Remove any uneaten food after 20 minutes to avoid spoilage.

They can graze free-range outdoors and receive small amounts of supplementary feed every day. Fresh hay is an EXCELLENT pasture option, especially if your enclosure doesn’t contain a lot of weeds or flowers.

Timothy, orchard and Bermuda hay work well for Russian turtles.

🔑 Russian Turtle Diet & Feeding Takeaway Keys: When it comes to a balanced diet, Russian turtles are best with a variety of different greensas well as a calcium supplement and multivitamin. they also need a large, shallow water bowl. You need to Feed yourself turtles for adults and babies once a day. Offer them as much as they can eat in 20 minutes.

Russian turtle habitat and tank structure

Russian turtle habitat and tank structureDon’t be fooled by their stocky little bodies, Russian turtles can dig holes to a depth of TWO meters! As such, you need to be prepared for some pretty crafty antics by escape artists, especially since they’re also experienced climbers.

Size of the case

Provide the turtles with the BIGGEST habitat that space allowsbecause free-range turtles use ranges of square miles in their natural habitat.

Regardless of whether they’re inside or outside, Pens should measure at least 12 square feet. You also want to increase the pen size to accommodate each additional turtle.

If you have a heart for owning a Russian tortoise but just don’t have enough space, you should consider this Adoption of a Red-Eared Slider instead. Red-Eared Sliders while Turtles and NOT turtlesare great, robust pet turtles.

Type of housing

Depending on your average temperature, your Russian turtle is well suited for an outdoor enclosure. This can be done with edible plants, while the outdoor environment also allows your turtle to bask in the sun when it’s not too hot.

Outdoor pens are the best option to keep your pet happy and healthy, provided the temperatures don’t drop much below 25 degrees Fahrenheit and there are isolated skin areas. Turtles also aestheticise and need a space where they can withdraw from the heat of a summer day.

The most common types of enclosure that pet owners choose for their reptiles are:


Aquariums are often recommended by pet shop employees because they generally do not have the best knowledge of Russian turtles. Unfortunately, These glass housings are unsuitable for turtles because the air circulation is so badThis leads to insufficient ventilation due to the shape of the aquarium.

In addition to poor ventilation, The clear glass sides are also stressful for turtles. You will constantly try to escape through the glass and possibly hurt yourself.

If you need to use an aquarium to house your turtle, it must be a minimum of 75 gallons AND Equipped with a circulation fan and privacy screen.

Rubbermaid storage container

Rubbermaid storage containers are an inexpensive indoor option an ideal alternative to glass aquariums. The 50 gallon container is a good starting point for a turtle plus It is light and easy to clean.

An additional benefit for your turtle is that the sides are blessed to be opaque, so your pet will not be harmed when trying to escape.

External pins

Outdoor pens are by far the BEST option for a happy, healthy, and blooming Russian turtle. You benefit from sunshine, which is crucial for the synthesis of vitamin D3, and you get more exercise in larger pens outdoors.

A stick can also be sown with a variety of plants, flowers and leafy greens to ensure edible landscaping.

As you design your turtle’s outdoor pen, Remember, these creatures are incredibly active and masters of escape artists. They will try to sneak out of their enclosure by climbing or digging, so the pen needs to be high enough to defeat their climbing skills and have a fence dug at least 8 to 12 inches deep into the ground.

If the turtle on the other hand sees something interesting, it will try to dig it out. Place some large stones around the edges of the fence for added security.

Protect your turtle from predators. Use a secure, shielded cover to keep dogs, foxes, raccoons, and birds away.

No matter what type of enclosure you choose for your Russian turtle, make sure it is large enough to accommodate movement and that it is safe to flee.

Ideal temperature gradient

Temperature and humidity of the Russian turtle

When it comes to the right temperature, a turtle case should be installed indoors an area of ​​the sun where the temperature is around 90 to 95 degrees. Fahrenheit.

The ambient temperature can be between 75 and 85 degrees during the day, while the night temperatures can drop to 60 degrees.

However, if the temperature drops too much, your turtle will NOT be able to digest food. If your outdoor climate cannot maintain an ideal temperature all year round, you must also use an indoor enclosure for your pet.

If this proves necessary, keep the same temperatures to allow for a roasted sun area and a cooler side to help regulate heat.

Ceramic radiant heaters and underfloor heating can be used as primary heat sources for indoor enclosures.

Lighting requirements

A Russian turtle thrives in an environment with 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. These equivalent light and dark periods keep the turtle in top condition, while too much light and warmth can lead to aestheticization.

A full spectrum lighting system with UVB rays is a NECESSITYSo take UVB bulbs with you when you buy standard lighting.

Turtles need to be exposed to UVB rays for about 10 hours a day to stay healthy. If your turtle is kept outdoors only, no additional lighting is required.

Ideal humidity

The humidity of Russian turtles must be kept relatively low. An ideal humidity is between 40% and 50% to keep your turtle in top shape.

Whether your turtle is indoors or outdoors, Keep an eye on the humidity with the help of a hygrometer. Improper humidity can lead to a variety of health problems.


To encourage digging and digging, Use a loose surface in the enclosure of your Russian turtle. The IDEAL substrate is considered as a Mixture of sand and garden clay.

However, if you don’t want to use the above mix, you can also use the following:

  • Cypress mulch
  • Coconut fiber
  • Peat moss
  • Shredded paper

The substrate should be deep enough for your turtle to burrow so that depth can be between 10 inches and 3 feet.

Decor and accessories

Russian turtles are best suited for outdoor environments with lots of grasses and willow plants such as bermuda, rye and fescue.

Other plants are also a great addition to your turtle’s pen. They enrich and create shadows at the same time.

Some excellent options for additional plants in your turtle’s enclosure are:

  • Prickly pears
  • Bristle brushes
  • Desert sage
  • Large Palo Verde trees

If you can’t find these plants or they don’t grow well in your area, All non-toxic native plants are sufficient.

Hiding boxes made of wood are also necessary to keep your turtle happy and healthy. Offer several hiding boxes that point in different directions in your outdoor turtle enclosure. In different directions, your pet can either seek comfort from the sun or save heat when needed.

Add some flat stones to keep your turtle entertained. Although you wouldn’t believe that Russian turtles are experienced climbers and like to roam over rock formations.

🔑 Russian Turtle Habitat & Tank Setup key to go: When it comes to case size, bigger is always better. However, if you have limited space The goal is to offer at least one pen that measures 12 square feet. Always offer several hiding boxes. Use a loose substrate and make sure your turtle has access to 10 hours of UVB. Aim for a place in the sun in the low 90 degrees FahrenheitWith Ambient temperatures around 80 and a Air humidity not higher than 50%. Your turtle can be kept outdoors for a year, unless the minimum temperature is below 60 degrees. In this case, they should be brought into the house.

General health information of the Russian turtle

Health information for Russian turtlesAlthough most reptiles are masters at hiding diseases, you should notice the early warning signs if you are familiar with your pet’s typical behavior. As a rule, a lack of appetite and lethargy indicate an illness. So pay special attention to these two symptoms.


The Russian turtle has both hibernation and aesthetics. Hibernation lasts in the cold months, while a turtle can look aesthetic when it is too hot or when there is a lack of food or water.

A pet turtle may not have the same temperature readings that motivate them to hibernate, especially when kept indoors.

If a pet turtle does NOT appear to be in good health, it is better not to encourage hibernation. This is because poor health may not allow survival in winter.

A healthy turtle can automatically slow down eating when it is ready for hibernation. Pet turtles may not require activation unless a heat wave has raised the temperature.

In the wild, Russian turtles hibernate for up to nine months a year. In captivity, they appear to benefit from only eight weeks of hibernation.

Discuss your turtle’s personal needs for hibernation and aestheticization as they can help you determine if your pet is healthy enough to hibernate or if you need to make adjustments to its habitat or diet.

Pyramid growth

Pyramid growth occurs when a turtle’s grooves grow vertically instead of growing horizontally as its size increases.

This condition often occurs when a turtle …

  • Receives too much protein
  • Is overfeeded
  • Has low humidity in the housing
  • Receives insufficient hydration
  • Has calcium deficiency

Respiratory infections

Respiratory infections in Russian turtles often occur when the humidity is too high and can lead to excessive mucosal discharge from the nose or mouth.

You may also notice that your turtle wheezes or has difficulty breathing when the infection becomes severe.

If your turtle develops a respiratory infection, they generally need antibiotics and supportive care until they recover.

Metabolic bone disease

As with many other reptiles in captivity, metabolic bone disease is a serious problem. Due to a calcium deficiency, your turtle can have a weak and brittle shell, as well as skeletal problems.

Provide plenty of calcium-rich dark leafy greens, supplement them with calcium powder, and offer a UVB light source to provide vitamin D3, which is necessary for calcium metabolism.

🔑 Russian Turtle General Healthy Take Away Keys: Although Russian turtles are generally robust and healthy people, they suffer from their fair share of health concerns. While minor health concerns like long toenails and small scratches are to be expectedYou should be aware of some of the more serious conditions, including: Respiratory infections, metabolic bone diseases and pyramid growth. A healthy and varied diet with the right calcium and the right humidity can avoid most of these problems.

Tips for dealing with Russian turtles and for gluing

Tips for gluing Russian turtlesAlthough Russian turtles are not the biggest fans of handling, they are quite docile and meek. So don’t expect too much struggle at the end. With that said, limit picking up as they feel uncomfortable in the air.

When it comes to temperament, Russian turtles are a casual reptile. They are not aggressive and develop strong bonds with their owners.

However, they are not the most cuddly pets and prefer to interact from the stability of the floor. They tolerate handling when needed for transportation and generally don’t bite when picked up.

If you bring your freshly picked dandelions with you, you will soon see how fast these tiny creatures can move when motivated. The gesture also contributes significantly to building your relationship.

Russian turtles can live alone, in pairs or in small groups. There can be slight aggression between men as they become territorial and can fight, which can lead to overturning and injury.

DO NOT house your Russian turtle with other turtle species or other pets. Also, pay close attention to signs of aggression OR struggle between your turtles if you limit yourself to the same pen.

🔑 Russian turtle handling and adhesive key to take away: With the ability to develop strong bonds with their owners and a generally gentle attitude, Russian turtles are wonderful reptiles for the first time for people of all ages. While they’ll never be cuddly or big fans of holding on, you’ll be surprised at how happy a Russian turtle can be to see its owner, especially when it has a treat in hand!

Is a Russian Tortoise Right for You?

After learning all about this adorable reptile, we wouldn’t blame you for buying an adorable little Russian turtle!

With their gentle demeanor, their relatively simple maintenance, and the need to eat messy live meals, Russian turtles are ideal pets for reptile owners or experienced professionals.

Make sure that you first create the perfect habitat for your turtle before buying your new pet so it is ready to move in after looking for your new companion.

Consider planting grasses and plants for a fresh, pesticide-free food source before taking your turtle home.

With lots of delicious bribes, you will soon have a friendly, active turtle that will delight you with its climbing and digging antics for hours.

Looking forward to your new best friend for many years!

Leave a Comment