Horsfield's Tortoise, Afghan Tortoise, Steppe Tortoise, Central Asian Tortoise, Four Toed Tortoise
Scientific Name: Testudo horsfieldi
The Russian Tortoise generally reaches a length of 6 to 8 inches. Their skin is often tan in color. Their carapace is very round and comes in a variety of colors such as tan, yellow-green, and olive. They often have dark markings on the scutes of their carapace. The vertebral scutes of the carapace are noticeably flat. The plastron of the Russian Tortoise is often covered with brown and black markings and at times, you will find one of these tortoises with a nearly completely black plastron. The tail has a terminal claw. The scutes on either side of the tail are often serrated and this seems to occur more often in males. Though females are generally larger than males, the tail is generally longer and thicker in males than in females. The Russian Tortoise has four claws on each foot and thus another of their common names, the Four-Toed Tortoise. They are also known as the Afghan, the Steppe, the Central Asian, and the Horsfield's Tortoise.
The Russian Tortoise is both a good digger and climber and though they are extremely good at surviving many temperature extremes and can be kept outside, you should always make sure that the pen that you are keeping them in is escape proof. This means often digging the pen into the ground so that there is a good deal of it actually in the ground that they can't dig under. The tortoise will dig a burrow to hibernate in, so make sure that they have an adequate amount of substrate to do this in, if you are keeping them in a pen indoors. Also note, that if you are planning to keep them indoors, there should be a very adequate amount of ventilation. They are extremely susceptible to shell rot and so you should be sure to keep them in a relatively dry area.
Males can become quite aggressive during mating season. He will bite the female's head and legs and after he is facing her, he will jerk his head up and down in a rapid movement and then make high-pitched noises. 2 to 4 clutches of eggs may be laid per season and each clutch contains a varying number of eggs, anywhere from 2 to 9. Incubate the eggs at 80% humidity and hatching should occur between 61 and 75 days. Hatchlings are five centimeters long and will grow fairly quickly in the first year. Feed hatchlings as you would adults to make sure that they grow deformity free.
They also live in rocky, hilly, and grassy areas that can be found close to a water source such as a stream
If you have experience with other tortoises and are looking for another to keep as a pet, then the Russian Tortoise may be a good choice.
One of the biggest problems with these tortoises is that those available are almost always imported, and thus they often undergo extreme amounts of stress and have internal parasites when you receive your Russian Tortoise. In addition, these tortoises often become unhealthy when they are not allowed to hibernate and only healthy Russian Tortoises should be allowed to hibernate, so this is another problem in and of itself. The Russian Tortoise may not be a good choice for a beginning tortoise keeper to own. Once they are healthy they can make good pets, but any purchaser should know that most of these tortoises are not healthy upon arrival. They should be checked by a reptile veterinarian as soon as possible after purchasing them. It has been reported that the average lifespan of the Russian Tortoise is about 50 years.
The Russian Tortoise can be found in Baluchistan, Pakistan, Eastern Iran, Afghanistan, Western China, and Russia. In Russia they live on steppes and loamy areas. . The Russian Tortoise enjoys burrowing and is known to be quite good at this, often digging burrows that are about 3 feet long, with enough space in them for the tortoise to turn around in.
A high fiber, low protein and calcium rich diet will keep your tortoise in good health. Achieving this diet means feeding them grass, leafy greens, squash, dandelion leaves, and the leaves and flowers of non-poisonous trees and shrubs. Fruit can be offe