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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Russian Tortoise

Russian Tortoise


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Traits & behavior

They eat only plant matter; mostly vegetables and some fruits.

This means that they are active during the day and sleep at night.

They like to dig and burrow into the sand.

With proper care, your tortoise could live to be more than 50 years old.

Things to remember

Always supervise children when they're interacting with your tortoise.

Wait 3-4 days for your pet to adjust to his new surroundings. Then try holding him for short amounts of time, and offering food by hand.

Russian tortoises need to live in a temperate, moderately humid environment.

Allow your tortoise to roam in the yard or house under close, constant supervision a few times a week.

Food safety

Fresh fruits and vegetables require their own dish and should be removed from the habitat after four hours to prevent spoilage.

Safety & cleanliness
Please remember that all pets may bite or scratch, and may transmit disease to humans. Keep your pet's home clean and wash your hands before and after handling your pet or cleaning his home. Infants, young children, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, and the infirm or elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with the pet or its habitat. Consult your doctor for more information.


80% of the diet should be raw and cooked vegetables. Choose romaine or green leaf lettuce, yellow peppers and tomatoes; cooked sweet potatoes, squash and cauliflower.

About 20% of the diet should be fruit like apples, melons, grapes, bananas and plums. Offer every third or fourth feeding.

Feeding frequency & amount
Start by feeding one cup of food per day. Then offer more or less based on feeding response.

Calcium dust
"Dust" the food with calcium supplement twice a week - ask an associate for details.

A diet rich in red and yellow colored foods will help keep your tortoise's shell from fading.

Provide a shallow dish with water for drinking and soaking and change it daily.


Signs of a healthy Russian tortoise:

  • Clear, alert eyes
  • Solid, well-formed shell
  • Eats and drinks normally
  • Breathes easily
  • Well-formed droppings every 2-3 days

Things to watch for:

  • Runny droppings or red streaks in droppings for more than two days
  • Soft or cracking shell
  • Eating or drinking less; weight loss
  • Swollen joints
  • Discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth

If you notice any of the signs above, please consult an experienced Reptile Veterinarian as soon as possible.


Use a 40-gallon or larger, glass terrarium with a screen top for ventilation, or, use a waterproof container, at least 2' x 4', with 1.5'- 2' high sides. Be sure to provide a hiding place large enough for your tortoise to be completely concealed.

Keep the humidity level at or near 55%. A hygrometer (humidity gauge) will help you keep track.


  • Day - Maintain a daytime temperature between 70-85° F
  • Basking - Use an under tank heater to create a localized basking area of 95-100° F
  • Night - Maintain a nighttime temperature between 60-70° F
  • Place a thermometer at each end of the home to monitor temperatures

Use a daytime UVA/UVB fluorescent bulb for approximately 12 hours of light per day to help maintain shell structure.

Line the home with 2"-3" of coconut fiber or bark bedding and change it at least once a month. Remove waste weekly and change substrate at least once a month.



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