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Russian Tortoise (Testudo horsfieldi)

The Russian tortoise is a small tortoise species, ranging from about 5-7 inches for males and 8-10 inches for females when full grown. You can tell males from females in that the females grow slightly larger then males. Also males tend to have a longer tail that is generally tucked to the side, and females tend to have flared scutes on their shells, while males do not. Coloration varies, but the shell is usually a ruddy brown or black, fading to yellow between the scutes, and the body itself straw-yellow and brown.

They are herbivores , and active grazers when the temperature is right, consuming a wide variety of weeds and grasses. Also Turnip greens, dandelion, chicory, endive, escarole, red or green leaf lettuce, radicchio, romaine, mustard greens, collard greens, watercress are fine for them to eat. The key to a good diet is variety.

They range from southwestern Russia through eastern Iran, northwest Pakistan and Afghanistan, occupying dry rocky deserts and hillsides, usually near a water source where grasses and other vegetation are present. Russian tortoises require temperatures from the low 70s to mid 90s. Evening temperatures can go as low as the mid 60's. During low temps they will burrow. They hibernate during winter and aestivate during the summer when temperatures are high. These tortoises are avid burrowers and can dig large burrows that might be six feet long.

Russians are friendly and delightful tortoises. They are active and spend a lot of time on the move. These tortoises are fascinating to watch, and it does not take them long to know who feeds them. They make a great tortoise for the first-time keeper.