Before we dig into this epic care guide, remember that a Russian tortoise is the exact same as a Horsefield tortoise. I have kept the best info for my famous Email Care Course so if you haven’t already (shame on you!) be sure to enter your email above to get this easy step-by-step course sent straight to your email inbox instantly!
The Russian Tortoise is a very small species as an adult female only grows to be a maximum of 10 inches in size and an adult male grows to be a maximum of 8 inches. The beauty of taking on one of these tortoises is that as long as you care for them the right way, they make a great pet, because they will live longer than you will. This care sheet will cover everything you need to know regarding how to properly tend to the needs of your new tortoise.
Take Your Tortoise to a Vet When You First Get It
From the very moment you bring your new Russian Tortoise into your life, it is important for you to take it to a vet to get it checked out. This is because most of these tortoises are living in the wild when they are captured. Unfortunately, telling the difference between a healthy tortoise and one that isn’t healthy is far from easy. Your tortoise could very well be stressed and anxious because it was removed from its homes.
While your new pet is being examined, you should ask the vet to check its size and weight. You want to make sure that it is healthy and not underdeveloped. The last thing you need examined is the fecal matter. You need to be sure there is not any parasites living inside of the tortoise’s belly.
If you purchased your tortoise from a pet shop, or you asked them for advice to guide you on getting the right shelter – chances are pretty good they suggested an aquarium. While it might seem like a good idea, this is not an ideal home for a tortoise. It is small, uncomfortable, and it does not circulate the air very well.
A large Rubbermaid storage container that is larger than 50 gallons in size is the ideal choice. These are lightweight and they are much easier to clean. The coloring of the case will make it possible for you to see in without allowing the tortoise to see how, so they won’t feel so anxious.
It is important to keep in mind that the bigger the environment you provide is, the better it will be for your tortoise. The humidity of the shelter should be around 60 percent. You have to take care not to allow the shelter to become dry or humid. These will both make it difficult for the tortoise to breathe properly.
The Russian Tortoise is known for being a grazer. This means they are always munching on their food or looking around for something to eat. They love leafy plants. It is a good idea to fill their home with several different weeds, flowers, and leaves. This particular tortoise is partial to eating dandelions.
In the wild, this is a tortoise that does not require a lot of water to survive. This is because it acquires almost all of the water that its body needs from the plants and flowers that it eats. It is also worth mentioning that it does not urinate the same way you do.
In captivity, however, this type of tortoise needs to be provided with a watering hole to drink from. Failing to provide your tortoise with a proper amount of water can cause it to dehydrate.
A flood light that provides 100 watts tends to be the best type of light for this type of tortoise. It is important to make sure you have a good clamp on the light. The light needs to be on for at least 12 hours a day. It also should not be on for more than 14 hours a day.
It is a pretty heated debate regarding what kind if humidity this particular tortoise needs to survive. Some people assume that if a tortoise is in too hot of an environment it will cause their shell to rot and then they will get an infection. While this can happen, it is just as dangerous for this creature to be in an environment that is too cool as well.
Purchase a high quality thermometer and provide your tortoise with a cool end and a humid end. Then, you can allow them to go where they are comfortable. If you keep your tortoise too cool all of the time, he or she will struggle to properly digest their food.
The hibernation cycle of this particular tortoise has always been something that was heavily debated by tortoise experts. This is because a Russian Tortoise in the wild is known to hibernate for as many as nine out of twelve months. In captivity, however, this same turtle is known to need just 8 weeks of hibernation to benefit the same way as it would from the nine months in the wild.
Before you allow your pet to enter hibernation, it is imperative to make sure that the creature is in prime health. You need to make sure it is a proper weight and that there are no parasites present in its stool. If either of these things are found to be true by the vet, it is not a good idea to hibernate your tortoise. The truth is, there are a lot of people who own these tortoises and never hibernate them. They have never noticed a difference.
If you are not sure what you are doing, you should just avoid hibernating the tortoise. You could end up hurting them or making them sick. Not hibernating them is not going to hurt them as long as you are providing them with everything they need in terms of shelter, water, and food.