Creature Feature: Russian Tortoise

Russian Tortoise

Testudo horsfieldii

Reptiles Alive Name: “Russiano”

Hissstory: Russiano came to Reptiles Alive in May 2001 when his owner decided tortoises do not make good pets.

RA Diet: Grasses, leafy greens, veggies, and commercial zoo tortoise food pellets.

Natural Diet: Grasses, plants, and flowers.

Range: Central Asia:  Russian Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Western China, and Iran.

 These hardy tortoises dwell in deserts and dry grasslands with sparse vegetation.

Size: Russian tortoises are relatively small tortoises.  They can grow up to about 8  inches long.

 As with many tortoises these can live over 50 years.


Russian tortoises breed soon after they emerge from hibernation. They lay 1-5 large eggs which hatch in 8-12 weeks.

 Most Russian tortoises sold as pets in the United States have been captured in the wild by commercial animal collectors and then sold into the pet trade.  Due to improper care, most pet tortoises suffer from a variety of diseases, bone deformities,  and many die from lack of care.

Cool Facts: Russian tortoises are great at tunneling and digging.  With their powerful arms and long, tough claws, they are able to dig burrows long enough and deep enough to survive the extreme heat and cold of the dry grasslands and deserts where they live.