Russian Tortoise Overview
Russian tortoise are imported into the U.S. and many other countries on a regular basis and have been for many years. The vast majority end up in big-box pet retailers. Imported Russian tortoises are generally between 4 and 5 inches in length, and are usually a mix of sexes. These females are usually two to four well-fed years from being large enough to produce babies.
Captive-Bred Russian Tortoises
The small clutch size of Russian tortoises can make it difficult to produce enough to meet the demand for pet Russians. Usually, two to four eggs are laid a few times a year. Our Russian Tortoise usually come out of hibernation in late February and waste no time in getting very active and frisky almost immediately.
We begin getting eggs in March, and babies are usually hatching 60 to 65 days later. We’ll often miss nests in the outdoor enclosures, but the babies have a very good hatch rate out of the ground here in Las Vegas, and we will often see a second wave of babies in late August and early September.
Russian Tortoise Housing
Russian tortoises are often bought as a first pet tortoise by inexperienced hobbyists who intend to keep them indoors. Russians are very forgiving tortoises, and their relatively low cost, ready availability and hardiness makes A. horsfieldii an attractive tortoise to new keepers looking to get their feet wet. However, while keeping them indoors can be done properly, there are some key things to keep in mind.
Many people think lettuce is all they need to feed their tortoises, and misshapen tortoises can eventually be the result. While greens such as romaine lettuce aren’t necessarily a bad thing, they aren’t a great staple diet, especially for growing young tortoises.
Tortoises in the wild eat a large variety of foods. We sometimes joke that their natural diet is the nutritional equivalent of cardboard, but in reality, it’s only slightly better. They make up for the lack of nutrition in their diet by eating this and that, all day long. Their goal in life is to wake up, search for new food items, maybe check out a female if it’s April or May, search for more food, and then go to bed.