Russian Tortoise Care Sheet & Russian Tortoise Care Information
Once you’ve purchased your russian tortoise for sale, it is time to get ready to prepare for your new pet tortoise to arrive and get everything ready.
Diet: A well-balanced Russian tortoise diet consists of:
- High fiber and calcium, low protein and fat is needed to ensure good digestive tract function.
- Dark green leafy greens like romaine, escarole, red leaf lettuce, kale, collard greens, green vegetables, limited amounts of squash, carrots, etc.
- Also benefit from a Russian tortoise commercial diet, like Mazuri tortoise chow
Feeding your Russian Tortoise
Things to remember when feeding your Russian tortoise:
- Fresh, clean, chlorine free water should be available at all times. Daily soaks for 20 minutes in luke warm shallow water are recommended for all baby tortoises and tortoise under 18 months of age. Some tortoises have a tendency to go to the bathroom in their water bowl, so expect to clean and disinfect this daily, if you soak them separately each morning, this reduces the frequency of them dirtying their own water dishes.
- Feed tortoises daily; finely chop vegetables.
- Sprinkle food with calcium supplement once or twice a week once tortoise is 6 months of age.
- Discard food not eaten within 24 hours.
Housing your pet russian tortoise
- Size – Indoor enclosure should be at least 36”x18”; outdoor enclosure should be at least 48”x48” with a secure screened cover to allow sunshine but provide protection; the walls should be high enough that the tortoise can’t escape and buried at least 12” into the ground, as Russian tortoises will dig but not too much.
- Habitat – Keep habitat arid and dry, with shaded areas to escape direct sunlight. Humid climates may need a dehumidifier, and cool climates require supplemental heating. Provide a hiding area, such as a cave or hide box filled with additional substrate. Maintain less than 60% humidity.
- Substrate – Tortoises are known for eating substrate, so use something that is digestible such as alfalfa pellets; substrate should be deep enough for the tortoise to burrow. Don’t use coarse substrates such as sand or gravel that can scratch the shell.
- Temperature – Temperature gradient (85°F for the warm end and 75°F for the cool end); recommend using an incandescent light or ceramic heater as primary heat source.
- Lighting – Providing UVB lighting for 12 to 14 hours a day is required.
- Water – Provide constant access to a shallow container large enough for the tortoise to soak in and drink from; the tortoise should be able to easily enter and exit the water bowl.
- Russian tortoises can be kept together and enjoy other tortoises company.
- Active, friendly and outgoing.
- Will become tame with gentle handling and time; move slowly around tortoises to avoid startling them.
- Adept at digging to escape; hide in objects and burrow into substrate.
Thoroughly clean and disinfect the habitat at least once a week: place tortoise in a secure habitat; scrub the tank and furnishings with a 3% bleach solution; rinse thoroughly with water, removing all traces of bleach smell; dry the tank and furnishings completely and add clean substrate.
Grooming & Hygiene
Weekly water soaks with water level no deeper than the mid-point between the bottom of the tortoise’s shell and its top.
Signs of a Healthy Animal
- Active and alert
- Eats regularly
- Healthy shell
- Clear, bright eyes
- Healthy skin
- Clear nose and vent
- Eye, nose or mouth discharge
- Soft, discolored or rough spots on shell
- Bumps or spots on skin
- Abnormal feces
- Sneezing, mouth breathing or runny nose
- Overgrown beak
If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian.
Common Health Issues
|Health Issue||Symptoms or Causes||Suggested Action|
|Metabolic bone/vitamin deficiency||Inability to absorb calcium due to insufficient UVB light or diet (including supplementation). If untreated, can lead to a disorder characterized by deformities, softened bones, swollen limbs and lethargy.||Consult your veterinarian and provide ample UVB lighting and proper diet with calcium supplementation.|
|Respiratory disease||Labored breathing or runny nose. Can be caused by cold, damp habitat or infectious disease.||Consult with your veterinarian and ensure the habitat is the proper temperature.|
|Ticks and mites||Parasites on the skin; can transmit disease.||Consult with your veterinarian.|
|Gastrointestinal disease||Runny stools, caked or smeared stool around the vent area and loss of appetite caused by bacterial or parasitic infection.||Consult with your veterinarian.|