Russian Tortoise as a Pet: A Guide to Care, Diet, and Size

Are you considering a Russian Tortoise as a pet? These adorable reptiles have gained popularity as pets due to their manageable size, docile nature, and relatively low maintenance requirements. In this article, we will explore the world of Russian Tortoises, covering topics such as their suitability as pets, diet recommendations, and their potential size.

Russian Tortoise as a Pet:

Russian Tortoises, scientifically known as Agrionemys horsfieldii or Testudo horsfieldii, are native to Central Asia, particularly the regions of Russia, China, Iran, and Afghanistan. They have become a favorite choice among reptile enthusiasts due to their hardy nature and relatively small size. As adults, they typically reach lengths of 6 to 8 inches and have a lifespan of 40 to 50 years when provided with proper care.

Russian tortoise as pets

Russian Tortoises make great pets for reptile lovers, especially those who prefer smaller species. They have a calm demeanor and are generally not aggressive. They are also known for their interesting behaviors, such as burrowing, basking, and their slow but steady movements. However, it’s important to note that Russian Tortoises have specific care requirements that need to be met to ensure their well-being.

Habitat and Enclosure

To keep a Russian Tortoise as a pet, you will need a suitable enclosure that mimics their natural habitat. A spacious and secure enclosure is necessary, as these tortoises are known for their escape artist skills. A glass or plastic terrarium with a solid base is a popular choice, or you can opt for a large tortoise table with high walls.

Provide a substrate made of a mixture of topsoil, sand, and coconut coir, as this allows for burrowing and promotes natural behavior. Ensure that the enclosure has a temperature gradient, with a basking spot at one end that reaches around 95°F (35°C) and a cooler area around 75°F (24°C). A UVB light source is essential to simulate natural sunlight and provide the tortoise with the necessary Vitamin D3 for calcium metabolism.


A balanced diet is crucial for the health of your Russian Tortoise. The tortoise’s natural diet consists of various grasses, weeds, and leafy greens. Aim for a high-fiber, low-protein diet. Offer a variety of vegetables such as dandelion greens, collard greens, kale, and dark, leafy lettuce. Avoid high-oxalate foods like spinach, as they can hinder calcium absorption.

Additionally, provide occasional fruits as treats, but ensure they make up only a small portion of the overall diet due to their high sugar content. Fresh water should be available at all times in a shallow dish, and the tortoise should be soaked in warm water a few times a week to ensure hydration and aid in shell health.

How big can a Russian tortoise get? 

Russian Tortoises are considered a small to medium-sized tortoise species. As mentioned earlier, they typically grow to lengths of 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm). Their size makes them suitable for indoor enclosures, and they can adapt well to apartment living.

It’s important to note that size can vary slightly among individuals, and proper care and diet play a significant role in their growth and development. By providing a nutritious diet, adequate space, and appropriate lighting and heating, you can help your Russian Tortoise reach its maximum potential size.

Russian Tortoises make wonderful pets for reptile enthusiasts seeking a small, manageable, and long-lived companion. With their calm nature and interesting behaviors, they can provide a unique and rewarding pet ownership experience. Remember to create.

Read more about what tortoise to have as pets here.