How To Raise A Russian Tortoise

Raise a Russian Tortoise can be a rewarding and fascinating experience. When properly cared for, Russian Tortoises make excellent first reptiles since they are pretty active and receptive to their owners. Besides, Russian Tortoises are social and easy to care for, making them an ideal pet for those looking for a low-maintenance reptile companion. Compared to other reptile species, they also live long lives—often exceeding 40 years.

However, the Russian tortoise is an endangered species, despite being a common pet. Suppose you are going to raise a Russian Tortoise; there are some do’s and don’ts you should be aware of. In this article, we will discuss the basics of Russian Tortoise care and provide tips on setting up an appropriate habitat, providing the proper diet, and handling your pet.

What Is The Ideal Russian Tortoise Habitat?

How To Raise A Russian Tortoise
What Is The Ideal Russian Tortoise Habitat

The ideal Russian Tortoise habitat should mimic their natural environment as closely as possible. As they initially live in dry and warm climates, the best place to take care of a Russian Tortoise is in a large, secure outdoor enclosure that provides all the necessary environmental features. In the following points, let us elaborate more about the suitable place to raise a Russian Tortoise.


Depending on the climate, Russian Tortoises can be kept successfully indoors or outdoors during warm weather. If your tortoise lives outdoors, it must have a dependable heat source in the cooler months since this species does not hibernate. Predator-proofing outside enclosures is another requirement, which can be challenging.

Meanwhile, the “turtle table” is the most frequently suggested indoor housing option for small or medium-sized tortoises. Adult tortoises can be kept in 75-gallon aquariums or greater, while hatchlings can start out in 10 to 20-gallon aquariums.


The ideal temperature for Russian Tortoises ranges from 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day to 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit at night, with a basking region that reaches about 95 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. You can add ceramic heat emitters, various heat bulbs, or under-tank heaters connected to thermostats to their habitat for suitable heating devices. For precise temperature readings, getting a temperature gun or a digital thermometer with a probe is vital.


Russian Tortoises require UV lighting, which comes in two equally essential varieties. UVA ultraviolet waves are necessary to encourage instinctive actions and increase appetite. The other form of radiation waves is UVB rays, which are vital for calcium metabolism and bone health.


Russian Tortoises are advised to use mercury vapor lamps because they are among the UVB sources that last the longest and provide the most heat. Another alternative for UV lighting is fluorescent bulbs for reptiles; these come in a few different designs, the most popular of which are the coil type and the tubular strip kind.


Russian Tortoises only need between 40 and 50 percent humidity to flourish. This is important because the humidity level helps keep the tortoise’s shell and skin healthy while allowing the air to be dry enough to avoid potential respiratory infections. Additionally, humidity levels that are too high or too low can cause stress and dehydration in the tortoise, which can lead to serious health problems.

What Does the Russian Tortoise Eat?

How To Raise A Russian Tortoise
What Does the Russian Tortoise Eat

It is important to provide variety in your Russian tortoise’s diet, as this will help ensure that your tortoise is getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals. The Russian tortoise is a desert-dwelling species, so its diet in the wild consists mainly of dry grasses, herbs, and succulents. Here are examples of the Russian tortoise’s diet you can try.

Vitamins and Minerals from Fruits and Vegetables

A Russian Tortoise’s diet should include a variety of fruits and vegetables to fulfill their vitamins and minerals requirement. Russian tortoises enjoy consuming kale, dandelion greens, escarole, collard greens, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, endive, and hibiscus leaves. For variety, you can also offer them fruits like apples and strawberries and some insects like mealworms and crickets.

Fruits and vegetables provide Russian Tortoises with essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to help them stay healthy. Fruits and vegetables are also good sources of water and fiber, which helps keep their digestive system functioning correctly.

High Fiber Diet from Greens

As a source of fiber, grass hays such as timothy, orchard grass, brome, etc., should always be accessible. Russian Tortoises can eat almost every leafy green in a grocery store, but they need to be varied to offer the proper nutrition. Several leafy greens are suitable, including romaine, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, dandelion greens, watercress, escarole, swiss chard, parsley, kale, spinach, endive, and spring mix.

High Fiber Diet from Greens
High Fiber Diet from Greens

The tortoise’s enclosure should ideally have edible vegetation to graze on. But you’ll discover Russian tortoises will kill many plants by eating them right down to the roots. A workaround for this would be cultivating edible plants outside the fence in an environment devoid of pesticides.

Calcium Supplements

To raise Russian Tortoises well, they need to consume calcium supplements. Calcium may keep their bones and shells solid and healthy. Calcium also helps them metabolize energy. Without enough, they can develop health problems like metabolic bone disease. Besides, calcium supplements can also help ensure that their diet contains a proper balance of nutrients.

Various companies, such as Fluker’s, Exo-Terra, and Rep-Cal, produce calcium powder. For Russian Tortoises younger than a year old, it should be sprinkled onto their meal once daily. Meanwhile, adults should consume it 2-3 times per week.


Russian Tortoises require multivitamins to help ensure proper nutrition and health. Multivitamins provide essential vitamins and minerals that may not be found in an animal’s regular diet. These vitamins and minerals are necessary for healthy bones, shell development, and immune system support. Additionally, multivitamins help support healthy digestion and metabolic functions while also helping protect the tortoise from deficiencies that may result from an unbalanced diet.

Numerous companies produce multivitamins suitable for reptiles, such as Herptivite, Reptivite, and Vionate. This reptile multivitamin supplement should generally only be sprinkled on the food once every one to two weeks.

Tips To Handle A Russian Tortoise

How To Raise A Russian Tortoise
Tips To Handle A Russian Tortoise

How to raise Russian Tortoises – Are you looking for tips on how to handle a Russian Tortoise? Russian Tortoises are adorable and popular pets, but they can be tricky to properly care for. Taking care of them correctly is essential for their health and safety; if done improperly, it can lead to stress and injury. Fortunately, with some simple tips and guidance, you can easily learn how to raise a Russian Tortoise and ensure your pet is happy and healthy.

Provide A Secure Enclosure

As an active tortoise species that can easily escape, you should ensure your Russian tortoise lives in a secure environment. The enclosure must be secure enough to keep the tortoise safe from predators and strong enough to prevent the tortoise from escaping. It also needs to be large enough to provide adequate space for the tortoise to move around, bask in the sun, and hide. Additionally, the enclosure should be well-ventilated and provide plenty of natural sunlight.

Mimic Its Natural Habitat

Mimicking their natural habitat helps to keep the Russian tortoise’s environment stable, which is essential for their health and well-being. Moreover, by imitating their natural habitat, the tortoises can better regulate their body temperature, as the natural environment provides natural shade and warmth. Besides, it helps the tortoises feel secure and safe, reducing stress levels.

How To Raise A Russian Tortoise
Mimic Its Natural Habitat

Moreover, ensure your enclosure is adequately heated and humidified. To mimic its natural habitat, you can provide a naturalistic environment with plenty of hiding places, rocks, and plants.

Maintain Its Food and Water

It is crucial to maintain Russian Tortoise food and water for several reasons. First, providing a balanced and varied diet is essential for the health and well-being of your tortoise. For optimal nutrition, Russian Tortoises should be supplied with fresh vegetables and fruits and a commercially available tortoise diet. 

Second, water is essential to keep your tortoise hydrated and to help with digestion. Offer a shallow water dish for your tortoise to soak in. Moreover, providing food and water helps to keep your tortoise active, which is essential for its physical and mental health. A healthy, active tortoise is a happy tortoise!

Give Exercise Time Outside of The Enclosure

The Russian tortoise is ideal for those looking for an easy-to-care-for pet that doesn’t require much exercise. However, taking your Russian tortoise out for regular exercise is essential to keep it healthy and happy. A simple walk helps stimulate the tortoise’s appetite and digestion and provides mental and physical stimulation. Additionally, regular exercise helps to prevent obesity in Russian Tortoises, which can lead to health problems.

Take Your Russian Tortoise for Regular Check-Ups

Taking your Russian tortoise for regular checkups is important to ensure the overall health of the animal. Regular checkups allow your veterinarian to identify and address any potential health issues, as well as evaluate your tortoise’s diet and environment. Additionally, regular checkups help to ensure your tortoise is receiving the necessary vaccinations and preventive care. This can help to prevent serious health issues down the line and give you peace of mind.

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Russian Tortoises Health Issues

How To Raise A Russian Tortoise
Russian Tortoises Health Issues

Despite its hardiness, the Russian tortoise is still susceptible to certain health issues. Common health issues include respiratory infections, vitamin deficiencies, and metabolic bone disease. Proper husbandry and diet are essential to keep your Russian tortoise healthy and active. Let us explain more about health issues that may happen to your Russian tortoise and how to solve them!

Respiratory Infections

The most common health issue in Russian Tortoises is respiratory infections. These infections are typically caused by a lack of proper humidity in the enclosure, as Russian Tortoises need a humid environment to stay healthy. 

Symptoms of respiratory infections in Russian Tortoises include wheezing, discharge from the nose or mouth, and lethargy. Treatment for these infections typically includes antibiotics and increasing the humidity in the enclosure.

Vitamin and Nutrient Deficiency

Another issue that can affect Russian Tortoises is vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. This is often caused by an unbalanced diet, which can lead to various health problems. These issues can manifest as shell deformities, weak bones, and more. To ensure your Russian tortoise is getting all of the nutrients they need, it is important to feed them a variety of high-quality fresh vegetables and fruits with some supplemental vitamins.

Metabolic Bone Disease

Metabolic Bone Disease
Metabolic Bone Disease

MBD or Metabolic bone disease in Russian Tortoises is caused by a lack of calcium, vitamin D3, or an imbalance of these two nutrients in their diet. Symptoms include softening of the shell, weakened or brittle bones, and deformities. 

To cure it, the diet should be corrected to include more calcium and vitamin D3. Moreover, exposure to UVB light should be increased. It is also important to consult with a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.


Raising a Russian Tortoise requires patience and dedication, but the rewards of caring for a beloved pet can be great. The key is to provide a safe, warm and secure environment, a healthy diet, and plenty of enrichment activities, and to monitor your pet regularly for any signs of stress. With the right care, a Russian Tortoise can live a long and happy life. Hopefully, our article can help you understand how to raise a Russian tortoise well.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are Russian Tortoises easy to take care of?

Yes, Russian Tortoises are relatively easy to take care of. The primary needs of a Russian Tortoise are a warm and dry environment, a varied diet, and plenty of space to explore. They are also generally low-maintenance, requiring daily care only for feeding and cleaning. With adequate attention, these tortoises can live for many years in captivity.

Do Russian Tortoises like to be held?

Russian Tortoises do not typically like to be held. Being an extremely active species, Russian Tortoises will know you and start interacting with you as soon as they feel at ease. They don’t like to be touched much, though, so this should only be done in extreme cases. They become stressed when handled and prefer to remain in their shell for safety. Handling should be kept to a minimum and should only be done for short periods of time.

How long does it take a Russian Tortoise to get used to a new home?

It typically takes a Russian Tortoise a few weeks to get used to a new home. It may take even longer if the tortoise is a juvenile or was recently moved from another home. So, you should provide a secure and comfortable environment for your tortoise. Make sure the enclosure is warm, well-ventilated, and has plenty of hiding places. Provide a variety of food and plenty of water. Once your tortoise feels secure, it should become more active and explore its new home.

Can you let a Russian tortoise roam the house?

No. Russian Tortoises are best kept in an enclosure or habitat that mimics their natural environment. It is not safe to let them roam the house due to the risk of them getting lost or injured. It is also important to note that they do need access to direct sunlight and a temperature-controlled environment.

Do Russian Tortoises need light at night?

No, Russian Tortoises do not need light at night. They are generally diurnal and prefer to sleep in darkness. Natural darkness is important for their health and well-being, as it helps them to establish their day/night cycle and encourages them to sleep. Too much light can cause stress and can disrupt their natural behaviors.

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