Russian Tortoise Care Tips


What will I need for my Russian Tortoise?

  • Outdoor enclosure in a warm climate, 2 ft by 4 ft pens with 12” above the ground surroundings. 
  • Housed indoors can be caged in large plastic bins, stock tanks, or small plastic pools. An enclosure measuring at least 5 square feet, with sidewalls 8 inches or higher.
  • Most active when the temperature is between 60°F to 90°F. But it can tolerate a summer temp of 120°F.
  • Russian tortoises hibernate underground during the winter season. They  won’t need to hibernate for the entire season if optimum temperatures are maintained with an overhead light. 
  • In the hot season, provide water in a bowl, use shallow, low sided dishes for watering.
  • They prefer broadleaf weeds and eagerly eat almost any leafy greens or vegetables offered to them. 
  • Use spring mixes, supplement with kale, collard greens, turnip greens, and any of the darker lettuce types.

The Russian tortoise (Agrionemys horsfieldii), also commonly known as the Afghan tortoise and the Central Asian tortoise.

Although they are called Russian tortoises, they occur in several countries other than Russia. They range throughout a large part of Asia and the Middle East.

The Russian tortoise is a small tortoise species with a size range of 5” to 10”. Females grow slightly larger, around 6” to 10” to accommodate more eggs.

Russian tortoises are popular pets. You can keep them indoors or outdoors, but outdoor tortoise enclosures generally require less equipment and upkeep and are preferable if the keeper lives in an appropriate climate.

Russian tortoises can live up to 50 years and require annual hibernation.

Even though they have big, bulky shells, Russian tortoises love to climb and explore different terrains.

The species can spend as much as nine months of the year in dormancy.

An alert and active Russian tortoise has bright and clean eyes.

These tortoises can suffer from the most common reptile health problems, but parasites and respiratory infections are probably the most common.

In September 1968, two Russian tortoises flew to the Moon, circled it, and returned safely to Earth on the Russian Zond 5 mission.

Use the Herpville App to set reminders for feeding, watering, breeding and cleaning.



  • Outdoor enclosure: It has the highest tolerances for temperature extremes between 60°F to 120°F
  • Indoor enclosure: 68° F – 80° F in the tank water
  • It can handle high temperatures only if it can get somewhere underground where it’s cooler.
  • It hibernates underground during the winter (outdoor enclosure) if they are allowed some time to dig a burrow before cold temperatures set in.



  • Indoor enclosure: Keep lights on 12 to 14 hours a day. Turn off all the lights and heat sources at night
  • Outdoor enclosure: Doesn’t need any additional light or heat source as long as temp doesn’t fall below 60°F and allow it to burrow.



Average humidity but provide adequate water, particularly to babies and juveniles as they tend to dry out quickly. Soak baby tortoises in shallow water up to three times a week for 10 to 15 minutes, whether outdoors or indoors.



Baby tortoises will shed more than adult tortoises. That is normal. Normally Russian tortoises peel in small patches. Typically, shedding goes unnoticed. However, if you notice large patches of skin peeling, your tortoise could be dehydrated or stressed.


Feeding Schedule

Outdoor enclosure: It prefers broadleaf weeds and eagerly eats almost any leafy greens or vegetables offered to the Use spring mixes, supplement with kale, collard greens, turnip greens, and any of the darker lettuce types.


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