What Can Russian Tortoises Eat? Explore Their Delicious World!

Russian tortoises are reptiles native to Central Asia and the Middle East. In fact, they have a hardy nature and easy care requirements.That’s why these small, land-dwelling animals are highly recommended for beginner reptile owners. And, reptile owners must be wondering about what can Russian tortoise eat? If we want to have healthy and active pets, it’s crucial to provide a proper diet they need.

Just like other tortoises, Russian tortoises feed primarily on grasses and weeds. In the wild, they may also consume other vegetation. Therefore, your Russian tortoise pets diet should mimic their natural diet as much as possible. In this article, we will discuss what Russian tortoises eat in the wild based on our recommendation. We also will give more tips to make your pet healthy and happy. Let’s check this out!

About Russian Tortoises

The Russian tortoise is famous among reptile aficionados because of its active lifestyle and eccentric nature. The species endemic to Central Asia, scientifically known as the Testudo horsfieldi, is tough and straightforward to take care of. As a result, it’s a wise choice if you want to be a novice reptile owner.

To be a good pet owner, you should understand that Russian tortoises are herbivores. They eat grasses, succulent plants, flowers, and fruits in the wild. Therefore, you can feed them with various foods you can find in your fridges, such as kale, romaine lettuce, and timothy hay. In the following paragraphs, let us elaborate more on tips and guidance about what Russian tortoises can eat.

How Do Russian Tortoises Find Their Food?

Russian tortoises have an excellent sense of smell, which helps them find food. They also have a keen sense of hearing and vision. This allows them to detect potential food sources by sound and sight. In addition, they have a heightened sense of touch, which they use to catch food sources through vibrations in the ground.

What Can Russian Tortoise Eat
How Do Russian Tortoises Find Their Food?

Because they are grazers, tortoises move around from one place to another while eating various foods. These tortoises will search for food in multiple locations, including open areas, woodlands, and deserts. They will also venture into human-inhabited areas such as parks and gardens.

The majority of Russian tortoises today are kept as pets, nevertheless. In that instance, you might still give them the impression that they are grazing. They are pleased to eat on the grass available in the backyard. You may scatter various flowers and leafy greens on the ground and let them discover these treats themselves.

What Can Russian Tortoises Eat?

If you are considering bringing a Russian tortoise into your home, we suggest you understand the dietary needs. Remember that the best diet for your tortoise pet is as similar to their native diet as possible. High in fiber and calcium, but low in protein diets are very recommended. Let’s take a look at the following points to explain what can Russian tortoises eat and how to ensure they get the proper nutrition.

What Can Russian Tortoise Eat
What Can Russian Tortoises Eat

1. Leafy Greens

Regarding leafy greens, your Russian tortoise will love plenty of options. We recommend giving them the best greens to feed. For instance, you can feed them dandelion leaves and romaine lettuce. These greens are a source of fiber and vitamins to fulfill their diet needs. Not only nutritious, these are also easy to digest for your tortoise.

In addition, Russian tortoises also enjoy vegetables. Spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are all excellent options for your tortoise. They will provide essential vitamins and minerals for your tortoise’s health and growth. Don’t forget to occasionally offer more unusual leafy greens to give your tortoise a varied diet. Purslane and dock are best picks to try!

2. Small Amount of Fruits

There are still pros and cons to feeding your Russian tortoise fruits.  Fruits are high in sugar, which may cause health problems from overfeeding. Moreover, large chunks of fruits are difficult for them to digest, causing several digestion problems. It’s better to remove any pits, stems, or skin of the fruits.

That’s why we recommend some fruits which are safe to feed to your Russian tortoises. You can feed your Russian tortoises small amounts of apples or strawberries. Remember to avoid fruits with high sugar content, such as bananas and pineapple.

3. Additional Multivitamins and Calcium

It is necessary to give Russian tortoises different multivitamins and calcium supplements. We recommend choosing a product devoid of vitamin D3 or phosphorus for calcium to keep your tortoise healthy. 

Moreover, fat-soluble multivitamins like vitamins A and D are essential for supporting healthy bodily functions. These extra nutrients should generally only be added to the food once every one to two weeks.

How Much Do Russian Tortoises Eat?

Russian tortoises are indigenous to dry, low-rainfall regions of the planet. They must go far and wide every day to find enough food for the day. Russian tortoises have an innate desire to forage and explore. Because they don’t always know when to stop eating, Russian tortoises kept as pets are noted for having a voracious appetite.

How Much Do Russian Tortoises Eat?
How Much Do Russian Tortoises Eat

Every day, give your pet tortoise as much food as it can eat in 30 minutes. Remove any uneaten food after 30 minutes to prevent food deterioration and overeating. Russian tortoises can forage outside without restriction and regularly receive small amounts of other food. Fresh hay is an excellent grazing alternative in an enclosure without weeds or flowers.

When it comes to feeding a Russian Tortoise, the general rule is to provide them with various fresh vegetables, fruits, and other foods. The amount of food a Russian Tortoise should consume depends on age, size, energy level, and overall health. Generally, younger tortoises require more frequent feedings than adults because they are still growing and developing.  

What Do Baby Russian Tortoises Eat?

When keeping Russian baby tortoises, it is vital to provide them with a balanced and nutritious diet. As a base, offer them a variety of fresh vegetables, such as dandelion greens, spring mix, collard greens, endive, escarole, and mustard greens. You can also offer them small amounts of fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, melon, or apples.

What Do Baby Russian Tortoises Eat?
What Do Baby Russian Tortoises Eat

Baby Russian tortoises also need a source of calcium and other minerals. Provide them with a shallow dish of calcium to help their growth. Special consideration should be given to providing the most excellent nutrition available to support their development and continued health. To prevent “overdosing” your pet tortoise on a particular food while kept as a pet, provide a variety of greens and permitted foods.

Russian Tortoise Pet Diet Tips

Russian tortoises are popular pet reptiles that make excellent companions. They’re known for their hardy nature and low-maintenance requirements. Even so, a proper diet is essential to ensure your pet’s health and longevity. Here are some tips for providing a balanced diet for your Russian tortoise.

Russian Tortoise Pet Diet Tips
Russian Tortoise Pet Diet Tips

1. Feed Them A Variety of Greens

First, feed them with leafy greens. They are the bulk of a Russian tortoise’s diet. Moreover, these greens contain vitamins and fibers to ensure nutritional balance. You can find various greens that Russians are willing to consume at most supermarket stores. 

However, not all greens are recommended for Russian tortoises. Try to feed them with collard greens, dandelion greens, or mustard greens. It would be better if you feed them organic greens which are free from pesticides. Moreover, avoid greens high in oxalic acids, such as spinach and beet greens!

2. Provide Them Fruits and Vegetables

In addition to leafy greens, Russian tortoises enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables. These will be a great source of vitamins and minerals for your Russian tortoises. Offer small amounts of squash, carrots, apples, melon, and other fruits and vegetables. Avoid fruits and vegetables with high sugar content, such as bananas and grapes. Its sugar content can lead to parasite blooms.

3. Offer Them Supplements

Russian tortoises also need supplements in their diet. Calcium is one of the most crucial supplements. A tiny dusting of calcium per day on the meal is sufficient if there is a good source of UVB, as with tortoises housed outside. Make sure to use phosphorus-free calcium with D3.

Offer Them Supplements
Offer Them Supplements

4. Give Them A Sufficient Water Supply

Each and every animal needs water to survive. There is no exception for Russian tortoises. Because they are an arid species, they can take a lot of water from their meal. They do, however, require a consistent source. 

We advise keeping a small bowl of water in each pen. Every two to three days, we prefer to soak them inside in chin-deep “baby-warm” water for 20 minutes. Since they typically empty their intestines and bladders while soaking, it cleans the cages and enables us to inspect them frequently.

What Food Should Russian Tortoises Avoid?

Despite their hardy nature, Russian tortoise owners must provide their pets a healthy diet. As such, certain foods should be avoided when feeding a Russian tortoise in the following points.

What Can Russian Tortoise Eat
What Food Should Russian Tortoises Avoid

1. Processed Food

When it comes to what Russian tortoises can’t eat, the most important thing to remember is that they should not be fed any processed food. This includes cereal, chips, crackers, and other snacks. 

These foods are not natural for a Russian tortoise’s diet and often contain many unhealthy ingredients. Additionally, processed foods may have too much sugar or fat, leading to health problems in Russian tortoises.

2. Anti-Nutrients

Many foods have compounds that prevent tortoises from absorbing nutrients, especially calcium, from their diet. You should be aware of the food that contains oxalic acid or phytic acid since these compounds can inhibit calcium absorption. 

We recommend you avoid or limit rhubarb, beet greens, peas, beans, and cereals in your tortoise diet. Even though most foods include some of these, a diversified diet helps reduce the negative consequences.

3. High Sugar and Protein

Russian tortoises are herbivores, so they should avoid food with high sugar and protein content. High protein content can put them at risk of digestive system issues and cause them to become dehydrated. They will create more urate than usual if they consume too much animal protein, which may harm their kidneys.

High Sugar and Protein
High Sugar and Protein

Moreover, Russian tortoises should not eat fruits with high sugar content. That’s because tortoises will tend to be obese and suffer health problems. Moreover, it can also upset the delicate balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut, leading to digestive issues. Additionally, it may contain too much calcium, leading to a calcium imbalance and other problems.

4. A Large Amount of Food

Any type of plant food should not be fed to a Russian tortoise in large quantities. While some foods may be beneficial in small doses, large amounts can lead to digestive problems. Additionally, overfeeding can lead to obesity, which can place a lot of strain on the internal organs of a Russian tortoise. 

If you frequently give your tortoises a lot of food, it’s simple for them to overeat. Therefore, it can cause defects in the growth of their shells and other health issues.

Common Ailments in Russian Tortoises

Many owners are unaware of the common ailments affecting their Russian tortoises. From shell rot to respiratory infections, there are a variety of health issues that can affect a Russian Tortoise. Let’s explore the common ailments that can affect Russian Tortoises and discuss the best ways to prevent and treat them.

Common Ailments in Russian Tortoises
Common Ailments in Russian Tortoises

1. Respiratory Infection

One of the most common ailments in Russian Tortoises is a respiratory infection. This is usually caused by an unclean environment or a poor diet. Signs of respiratory disease include wheezing, mucus discharge from the nose or mouth, and lethargy. If you notice these symptoms, you must take your tortoise to the vet for treatment.

2. Shell Rot

Another common health issue for Russian Tortoises is shell rot. This is caused by bacteria, usually from water in the enclosure. Shell rot can be easily prevented by ensuring that their section is kept dry and clean and that they are not overfed.

3. Metabolic Bone Disease

This term, also known as MBD, describes various conditions where an excess of calcium, phosphorus, or vitamin D3 leads to the thinning of bones or compromised system function. One of the most prevalent health issues in reptiles, it is frequently brought on by insufficient calcium intake or poor UVB lighting, both of which are necessary for calcium absorption. 

Check if your Russian tortoises suffer mild symptoms such as lethargy and loss of appetite to severe ones like soft shells, abnormal shell growth, tremors, and twitching of the extremities. Every tortoise with suspected MBD needs to receive veterinary care.


In conclusion, Russian tortoises can eat various foods to fulfill their daily needs. Remember that foods should contain various fruits and vegetables. Moreover, they should consume a small amount of high-quality commercial tortoise calcium and supplements. We hope that a varied and balanced diet will make you Russian tortoise stays happy and healthy.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What fruits and vegetables can a Russian tortoise eat?

Russian tortoises can eat fruits and vegetables like dark leafy greens, carrots, and apples. These foods provide essential vitamins and minerals to help keep the tortoise healthy. Fruits and vegetables also provide a source of fiber to help maintain a healthy digestive system. Find what can Russian tortoise eat in this article to understand your pet needs!

What can’t Russian tortoises eat?

Russian tortoises should not eat high-protein, high-fat, animal foods such as dog food, cat food, and certain vegetables like cabbage and broccoli. These foods can cause nutritional imbalances, digestive issues, and obesity in tortoises.

Do Russian tortoises eat every day?

Yes, Russian tortoises eat every day. This is because they need constant nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to stay healthy. Allowing them to eat as much as they can each day for 30 minutes is an excellent general rule to avoid overeating. Supplements for calcium and many vitamins should be given once each week. If you curious what can Russian tortoise eat, please read the article!

Can a Russian tortoise eat fruits?

Yes, a Russian tortoise can eat fruits. Fruits such as apples, melons, strawberries, and blueberries make excellent treats for Russian tortoises. These fruits contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help keep your tortoise healthy and active. Discover what can Russian tortoise eat in the article above!

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