Russian tortoise a.k.a Horsefield's Tortoise or Testudo horsefieldii
Intro to Russian Tortoises
The Russian tortoise is a tiny, but mighty species of tortoise. Although drab in appearances, they more than make up for it with their exceptional ease of care and practicality.These tortoises naturally occur in Eastern Europe, ranging across temperate grasslands. These tiny tortoises average at 6 to 8 inches full grown (males staying smaller), and due to their natural range, can tolerate a variety of environments, making them very hardy in captivity. They’re also very active and curious once established in their environment which makes them a fun animal to interact with. Like all tortoises and turtles, Russian tortoises are long lived. You’re looking at a tiny shelled friend for about 60-70 years!
Russian Tortoise Care
Tortoises are herbivores, so a variety of greens is important to sustain proper nutrition. Dark leafy greens, hay, and herbivore pellets are good sources of food to keep these tortoises happy and healthy. Food can be offered every day. It’s also good to soak them in shallow water at least twice a week for about 15 minutes to ensure adequate hydration. Being a grassland species, humidity does not need to be consistently high, but it is recommended to mist the enclosure in the mornings. Ambient humidity can remain in the 60-50 range. Housing is also very practical with this small species. All tortoises require heat and UVB lighting. Basking temperatures should reach the mid to low 90 degrees F, with an ambient of about 80 degrees F. 5.0 UVB should be provided across the enclosure. As adults, UVB can be amped to 10.0. All lights should be kept on a day/night cycle. A 20 gallon tank or tortoise pen is enough for one to 3 babies, and adult sized enclosures can measure at least 4 feet long and 2 feet deep. Hides should be offered at each end of the enclosure, with a shallow water dish at the opposite end of the basking area to provide a proper heat gradient. The food bowl can be placed closer to the basking area as well. A thick layer of mulch substrate allows the tortoises to nestle themselves into the ground to hide and rest. It’s also okay to add small obstacles in the enclosure to allow the tortoises to walk through and learn how to traverse their terrain. Due to the variety of climates in their natural range, Russian tortoises do great living outdoors, as long as proper enclosure and safety requirements are met.
Russian Tortoises For Sale in the Pet Trade
Russian tortoises are fairly common in captivity, but are not as readily captive bred. They do not lay large clutches, and not many breeders work with the species. Most Russian tortoises seen for sale will be wild caught adults. Russian tortoises are vulnerable in the wild due to land development and illegal poaching. These tortoises are fairly affordable, and captive bred babies, although worth double the price of wild caught individuals, are slowly becoming more sought after by pet keepers. The popularity of the Russian tortoise is 100% warranted and they make a great alternative to the equally popular sulcata tortoise, which has proven to be one of the worst pets for most people due to their large size. Russian tortoises are a manageable species that are full of personality and are very hardy, allowing them to forgive many beginner mistakes with their care.
The ethical collection and sustainability of species Imported and Exported are monitored by USFWS & CITES. CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species. How does CITES work?: https://cites.org/eng/disc/how.php