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Caring for and Feeding a Russian Tortoise

Updated on September 3, 2011
Whitney05 profile image

Whitney has raised and bred different species of geckos, snakes, lizards, tortoises and other exotics since 2003

Turtle or Tortoise?

First off, I want to explain a few differences between a turtle and a tortoise...

Turtles spend most of their time in water, whereas tortoises spend most of their time on land.

Turtles are more likely to adapt to an aquatic lifestyle when the weather gets cold, finding warm ground in the water by digging and making a nest area. Tortoises, on the other hand, will more than likely drown in deep waters and waters with a fast current.

Turtles' front feet are mostly fins, whereas tortoises have hard, scaly feed that are built to crawl across sharp rocks and sand. Tortoises often have front claws that help them dig burrows to nest in during hot weather.

Turtles have a flat shell, whereas tortoises have a rounded dome shell.

Fickr image by beautyredefined
Fickr image by beautyredefined

Caring for Russian Tortoises

Russian tortoises are native to the continent of Asia, more specifically in the Ukraine, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and parts of China.

Like with more land tortoises, they tend to live up to 100 years, so before you get a Russian tortoise, make sure that you're prepared for a life-long commitment. These guys aren't something that when you're tired of caring for the you can just throw out; these guys will more than likely live longer than you.

Russian tortoises tend to grow about an average size of 4" to 10" in length.

If you decide that you're in for the commitment of caring for a Russian tortoise, you'll want to find a reputable breeder. Before you bring home a pet tortoise, you really should do all the research that your can, so that you don't have any questions about care and diet after you've got the tortoise in your home. You want to make sure that you have the enclosure already set up and your veggies and supplements ready.

When you first get a your tortoise, you want to take it to a reputable herpetological veterinarian, so that you can make sure that the tortoise is healthy. Because most Russian tortoises are actually wild caught, you want to make sure that yours is healthy, as most wild caught specimens have parasites as well as other health illnesses, but this can be true of wild caught or captive bred.

Make sure that the vet weighs the tort and does the fecal exam.

Flickr image by eshm
Flickr image by eshm

A Russian Tortoise Enclosure

Once you get a clean bill of health from your veterinarian, you'll need to make sure that you have the ideal cage setup ready. You can either purchase a plastic storage bin or a glass aquarium; if you use a storage bin, you'll want to leave the lid off for proper ventilation. It's ideal that if you have good climate, that you set up a pen outside. Russian Tortoises prefer to be outside and like large outdoor pens (at least 4' x 3').

If you prefer to keep the tortoise inside, you'll want to make sure that the tank or tub is large. Tortoises like to explore. As for the ideal size aquarium, you'll want at minimum a 75 gallon tank, and for a storage tub, you'll want at least a 50 gallon container. For babies, you can go a little smaller, but as for adult sized enclosure, you don't want to go any lower than a 75 gallon glass tank or a 50 gallon plastic container.

It's best that you take dark paper or tape and block off the bottom 10" or so so that the tortoise can't see out of the tank or tub (if the tub is clear); but doing this you can reduce stress because the tortoise will try and try to go to the other side of the enclosure walls if he can see to the other side. You can purchase colored storage bins so that you don't have to worry about taping up the bottom.

You may even consider using a 100 gallon plus, reptarium for a play-pen style cage.

Substrate

There are many options for you to choose from, but the best substrate that you will want to use is a 50/50 sand and garden loam. Other options include bed-a-beast (which you can find in a compressed brick form).

You don't want the substrate to be too dry, but not overly moist either. The best way to achieve this is to pour a pan of water (about 48 ounces of water will do) into the enclosure once a week and mix up the substrate. It'll dry before the next week, but that'll be ok.

The ideal humidity is around 70%, so make sure to mist the substrate just a little to help create the ideal humidity.

You don't want to use newspaper, rabbit pellets, care fresh bedding, or alfalfa hay.

Temperature

During the day, you want to have the temperature on the hot side of the enclosure around 90-95F and the cool side around 70F.

The best and most accurate way to measure the temperature is by using a digital thermometer with a probe. Without this particular type of thermometer, you tortoise may not be getting the accurate temperatures, which can lead to health concerns.

The best way to achieve accurate temperatures is by using an under tank heater, but remember that best way to measure the temperatures is by using a digital thermometer with a probe.

Humidity

As mentioned above, the ideal humidity level needs to be right around 70%.

If your humidity is too high, substrate too wet, and temperatures too low, you can cause your tortoise to suffer scale rot. If you keep lower humidity levels, you'll want to soak your tortoise in warm water once or twice a week.

Lighting

You want to provide both UVB lighting and regular lighting. You can easily achieve this by purchasing the UV heat bulbs. T-Rex has the Active UV-Heat that works great.

The alternative to the T-Rex Active UV-Heat or even the Capture Sun bulbs is using a UVB tube, but because they do not put off any heat, you'll want to use a clamp light as well.

You want to keep the lighting on for about 12-14 hours each day. This can easily be achieved by a simple timer.

Flickr image by eshm
Flickr image by eshm

Foods to Avoid

  • All fruit (although sometimes recommended, it can lead to parasite blooms due to the sugar content)
  • All grains (to include bread, pasta, etc.)
  • All human food except what's been listed as "good"
  • Bok Choy
  • Commercial pellet diets
  • Dog and cat food
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Meat

Russian Tortoise Diet

You need to restrict your tortoise's diet, as captive tortoises get less exercise and they can easily overeat, which can cause rapid growth and a shortened lifespan.

It's best to feed your tortoise however much he will eat in a 20 minute period and remove anything uneaten.

You want to make sure that you provide fresh foods every day. You will want to provide a wide variety of foods as well.

Some of the greens and flowers that you will want to include in your tortoises diet include.

Greens/Veggies

  • Apples (the only fruit you should give your tortoise because of the high pectin content, but ONLY feed on occasion)
  • Cabbage (ONLY on occasion)
  • Chicory
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Radicchio
  • Red and green leaf lettuce
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Turnip greens

Plants and Flowers

  • Californian Poppy escholzia
  • Chia
  • Chrysanthemum flowers
  • Cornflowers Plagiobothrys ssp
  • Dandelion
  • Dayflower Commelina diffusa (flowers and leaves)
  • Forsythia (flowers and leaves)
  • Hen and Chicks
  • Henbit
  • Hibiscus (flowers and leaves)
  • Hosta
  • Ice Plants
  • Mallow (flowers and leaves)
  • Mulberry leaves
  • Plantain (not the banana fruit but the weed plantago major)
  • Prickly pear flowers (fruit and pads) (burn the spines off)
  • Rose (flowers and leaves)
  • Sedum

When it comes to getting plants from the garden store, make sure that you replantĀ  them for at least 1-3 months in a non-fertilized soil. You don't want your tortoise eating a fertilizer within the leaves or flowers.

You'll also want to provide a very shallow bowl of water. Make sure that the bowl is filled with fresh water daily.

Make sure that you wash the greens and veggies thoroughly, and you want to make sure that there aren't any pesticides or sprays on the veggies before you give the greens to your tortoise.

Supplements

You want to make sure that you're not only providing a proper diet, but that you're providing proper supplements. You want to lightly dust the fresh vegetables with non-phosphorus calcium with D3, especially if you house your tortoise inside. Even if you house your tortoise outside, you should still supplement calcium daily.

The problem can arise if your tortoise gets too much calcium, as your tortoise can cause a secondary deficiency such as zinc, copper, and iodine. Too much calcium can also cause mal-absorption of fatty acids, as well as the formation of bladder stones.

You can prevent secondary health concerns by still supplementing your tortoise daily. What you can do is put a cuttlebone in the enclosure so that the tortoise can regulate his own calcium intake

Comments

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    • profile image

      Ryana 2 months ago

      I've seen a lot of pictures of turtles and they are so cute so now going to get one. I've done a lot of research but I don't think I'm quite ready yet. My mom said we could make the enclosure Friday but I'm scared that I'm not ready and I'll torture the tort. Any advice?!

    • profile image

      Crystal 4 years ago

      My tortus has been in her water dish a LOT since we've moved her to a bigger cage. And not really eating I'm worried about her is this normal.

    • profile image

      talhashah 5 years ago

      hi i wanted to ask is it ok if my tortoise doesnot have black spots on its shell

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 5 years ago from Northern California

      Great Hub and photos! Very comprehensive. I love our Russian Tortoise and he is definitely our longest-living pet :)

    • maxravi profile image

      Ravi Singh 6 years ago from India

      I got so many new information about russian tortoise. Thanks for this hub.I appreciate your care about animals.

    • profile image

      guest 6 years ago

      ok my tort is fine bleeding stopped a few seconds after the trimming. is an hour or so a good amount of time outside?obviously longer is better.

    • Whitney05 profile image
      Author

      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      No need to trim your tortoise's claws. Outside time that the tort should be receiving anyway, should be sufficient from keeping them from an excessive length.

      For now, ensure that the bleeding has stopped, and keep it clean.

    • profile image

      guest  6 years ago

      i was trimming my tortoises nails and i accidentaly hit the quick is my pet going to be ok if i leave her alone to heal? or should i put some antibiotic on the tips of the nails i cut?

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      You want to make sure that the metal piece is not on the cuttlebone. You DO NOT want your tortosie trying to or attempting to eat it.

    • profile image

      guest 6 years ago

      how important is it to remove the back of a cuttle bone b4 putting it in the enclosure?

    • Whitney05 profile image
      Author

      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      You don't want to put the tortoise in a glass tank. You want a plastic tote and/or an outdoor enclosure. In or to safely put a tortoise in an aquarium, you'll want to put something on the glass so that the tort cannot see through to the other side. You also would need at least a 90 gallon tank or larger to accommodate proper size.

      You never put an enclosure in direct sunlight as it can easily creat the magnifier effect. IE place a magnifying glass over something in the sun and watch it burn.

    • profile image

      beckyf 6 years ago

      i just adopted a russian tortoise from a friend. can i keep the glass tank in front of a window and should i put the dark paper on the tank?

    • melbel profile image

      Melanie Shebel 6 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

      Awww the tortoise in the first picture (flikr) is really cute. It's smiling. :)

    • profile image

      markb629 6 years ago

      Man oh man I know I'm a,lil late to the HUGE drawn out lighting discussion above....some people just make you wonder about over doing something as simple but yet dangerous as uvb....and in the past couple years there has been some extensive research done on all uv bulbs from contact fluorescents and tubes to mercury vapor bulbs in relation to certain sickness that was affecting many keepers animals that required uvb from eye problems to appetite to lethargy and most were found to have been producing dangerous amounts of uvb both beneficial and harmful spectrums and even the different light fixture shapes and sizes caused different high concentration points from different distances but now all have been reformulated and I know at least the zoo med products are supposed to come with a lighting guide for distance and application....just as with us humans too much of a good or healthy thing can most definitely turn bad or worse

    • lessthansign3 profile image

      lessthansign3 6 years ago from Minneapolis

      These guys are so cute! They're on my list of someday pets, for sure. Watching them eat is the best part, hehe.

    • Whitney05 profile image
      Author

      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Calcium sand is the worst sand for any reptile. It entices them to eat it, and it impacts their intestines as it is NOT digestable. Many tests have been performed using both water and stomach-like acid, and it takes WAY too long to dissolve in order for it to be safe. Plus, sand alone is not a suitable substrate. It's ideal if you remove the calcium sand, not matter how much money you spent on it, and replace it with non-fertilized topsoil without any additives. Or purchase coconut coir blocks (hydrate with water), and mix the substrate with fine grain playsand at a 50/50 ratio.

      Please make sure that you're housing the tortoise with at minimum 4 inches of substrate to dig and burrow in. And, make sure the enclosure is a bare minimum of a 50 gallon tote.

      You want to stick with weeds, grasses, and greens. Limit dark greens like spinach, as it's an oxalate which will bind to calcium in the body and cause kidney problems. Avoid fruits and other vegetables. This species is strictly a weeds and grasses type tortoise. You don't want to feed other veggies like beans, corn, and carrots. Some breeders will say carrots on occasion, but you do not want to make it a part of the staple diet.

      Also, make sure to use the spring mix as your base diet, adding other greens as variation.

    • profile image

      Dionne 7 years ago

      Recently I adopted an abandoned russian tortoise (I work for an Animal Control facility). He had been left in an evicted house for at least 3 weeks prior to anyon calling us, so he was very underweight. His rear legs were so thin, he wasn't able to walk on them. I've had him, Borris, for about a month now and he's literally running. I've been using calicum sand and timothy hay in his enclosuer, feeding him the fresh grocery greens (changing it up as much as I can, I found that the Asian Market has a huge selection). A co-worker who said she used to "raise" russians said that she used to also feed thawed mixed veggies (corn, greenbeans, peas and carrot mix). Is this ok or potentially harmful?

    • Morgan F profile image

      Morgan F 7 years ago from USA

      Great post Whitney! We have a Russian Tortoise named Charlie he's seven. (Well ACTUALLY it's a she lol but we didn't find out for about six months so the name stuck. needless to say she's a little confused)

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I wouldn't offer tomatoes.

    • profile image

      Julia Dizon 7 years ago

      Cool, know i know what to get for my Russian Tortoise, Spongy! I just have one question about it's diet- Are Russian Tortoises aloud tomatoes?

    • profile image

      Tom 7 years ago

      Can you get RT's in australia?

    • Whitney05 profile image
      Author

      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I would say at least an hour or two.

    • profile image

      Dawn 7 years ago

      Our son has "Rhino" indoors with a UVB on him 12-14 hours a day depending on the day. I also have him take him outside for real sun at least once a day. How long should he have him outside? He tries to take Rhino out for only about 15 minutes because my son gets bored and he says he is too hot (85 degrees).

    • Whitney05 profile image
      Author

      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Typically, petsmart doesn't have the best knowledge of care. Stick with fresh produce- spring mix and various weeds and flowers.Check out the page on safe plants for tortoises to get a good idea as to what to feed in regards to plants and weeds.

      Petsmart only sells 4"+ tortoises, which are near full grown in regards to Russians. They also sell captive caught, which they claim they don't, but they do. Your Russian is more than likely at least 4-5 years old (if not older) and nearly full grown. In most cases, the only way to really get a baby is to buy from a breeder, and there aren't many who offer babies. Babies will fit in the palm of your hand and not exceed the size of your hand.

      You want to put the tortoise in a 50 gallon tote. The 20 gallon aquarium will severely stress out the tortoise because 1)it can see out of the walls and will want to get to the other side and 2) it's WAY to small even for a baby.

      These guys need large enclosures for a lot of exercise.

      You can easily set up an enclosure outside and build a lid to it, which is ideal to prevent predators from getting the tortoise.

    • profile image

      Bre 7 years ago

      i just got a russian tortoise today at petsmart and im wondering if its a good idea to process or mash up the food i feed her.. the guy at petsmart said that's what she's used to and so far she hasn't wanted to eat anything so im wondering if its because its not mashed.. also i live in the mountains and i can't let her live outside or something will happen to her so i have her in a 20 gallon tank right now cause she's still a baby.. if i let her out for a long time at least once a day is that ok for her to live in?

    • Whitney05 profile image
      Author

      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      These are the most effective at providing UV similar to that of natural sun. You can use the tubes, but they msut be replaced at least every 5-6 months, as the UV runs out quickly. Plus, they only provide a minimal amount of UV rays in comparison to mercury bulbs. The best is probably the TRex Active UV Heat; the Zoomed Powersun is ok, but the TRex brand bulb provides the closest to "real" UV between the two brands. The tubes are cheaper but they're no good.

    • profile image

      steve 7 years ago

      What would be an acceptable alternative to the mercury vapor bulb for UV and heat???

    • profile image

      steve 7 years ago

      ok i figured as much but was not sure. thank you .

    • Whitney05 profile image
      Author

      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Cuttle bone is perfectly fine. In all reality, that's all that a Turtle bone is- a cuttle bone in a different wrapper by a different manufacture.

    • profile image

      steve 7 years ago

      thank you that is good to here.. is there any real difference betwean the Turtle Bone and a standard cuttle bone? i can get both at my local pet shop but the cuttle bone is cheaper. I will invest in the turtle bone if it has things the cuttle bone does not.

    • Whitney05 profile image
      Author

      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      TNT is great. You don't need to put calcium on the food. Just supply the tortoise with a cuttlebone, and it'll munch as needed.

    • profile image

      steve 7 years ago

      I give my tort the Total Nutrition for Tortoises and i have a cuttle bone in the enclosure i have calcium with d3 but she does not eat the food with that white powder on it should i be giving her both or does the TNT have all the calcium she will need?? I supplement every other feeding like you said.

    • Whitney05 profile image
      Author

      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      steve, those temps are fine,

      jenlou, it's hard to estimate age once the tortoise is full grown. some people on the tortoiseforum website can give you an idea based on the appearance of the shell, but it's just an estimate. Where did you get the tortoise? If a petstore, it's probably fully grown adult around 5-10 years old.

    • profile image

      jenlou2000 7 years ago

      we just got our new baby (well i dont know her age) we read your web page over and over before we got her..you have been so helpful..thank you so much..we love her my 6 year old daughter named her jessica ruby lol..but we call her jess..how would i be able to find out her age???

    • profile image

      steve 7 years ago

      it is at 93.5 on the hot side and around 70 on the cool end.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      You want the temperature closer to 90 on the hot side.

    • profile image

      steve 7 years ago

      well i found a way to kill the bugs and not harm my compannion. all is well now i have the temps perfect and the humidity on one side of the tank around 70 percent and 73 to 77f degrees on that side but she likes to stay in the basking end of the tank. should i lower or raise that side of the tanks temp?

    • profile image

      geogre gligli 7 years ago

      In Russia it name is Middle-Asian Turtle ;)

    • Whitney05 profile image
      Author

      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      It could be nothing. I'd just keep an eye on them. I've heard of the little white bugs. I can't think of what they're called right now, but they're fine.

    • profile image

      steve 7 years ago

      like i said they are almost microscopic they are just barely visible only one side of the tank is kept around 70 percent humidity like you recommended. they have a cylindrical body 4 to 8 legs(best guess) they move fast and thrive when the humidity is high i threw out the moss i had and used a habitat clenser then i let the tank dry out i soak my RT twice a wk like you said to do. i have not seen the bugs since the substrate dried out.I have really excellent vision.

    • Whitney05 profile image
      Author

      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      They're probably just pillbugs, which isn't anything to worry about. You don't want the humidity too high.

      If they're microscopic, you wouldn't be able to see them with your naked eye.

    • profile image

      steve 7 years ago

      i cleaned the enclosure out and replaced the bedding i didn't see them for a while but i just put some moss in the encloure now i have seen two of them so far i sprayed the moss and the spot where i found the the little white things it seems that what ever these bugs are they only come out when the humidity is high. they look like little white microscopic worms but they are smaller than any thing i have seen b4 any recommendations as to what kind of habitat cleaner would be strong enough to kill these things and not hurt my tortoise??

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Wow! I had no idea how much preparation and care it took to keep a turtle. That makes you think twice about it and it takes a huge commitment and the eating habits are not easy. Thanks for the description and the easy to follow guidelines.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I'm not sure, as white things isn't the best description. Clean out and disinfect the water bowl. I've seen white worm like larvae in dirty water bowls and water crystals that haven't been properly cared for (left with insects who poo on them without throwing out the dirty crystals regularly, just adding to).

    • profile image

      steve 7 years ago

      alright i have a question what are these little white things i keep finding in my tortoise's water bowl are very very tiny and i don't see them anywhere else in the enclosure

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      They can travel a good ways. I've heard of them traveling miles. It sounds crazy because they are a smaller tortoise species, but it is possible.

    • profile image

      Christine 7 years ago

      I plan on it. We know all of our neighbors and live in a pretty tight knit neighborhood and I haven't heard anything.

      Thanks for your help...

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      it's recommended to bring the tortoise inside during the winter.using an alternative source of uv when inside. I understood you; I was just giving my research and experienced opinion as to bringing in the reptile during weather extremes and caring for tortoise inside. You would need an alternate source of uv, and it's highly recommended to have an inside enclosure for winter and storms.

      it's also a good idea to try to find the original owner, if the tortoise is indeed a russian tortoise.

    • profile image

      Christine 7 years ago

      Thanks for responding. Let me clarify, he will live in an outdoor enclosure. We are building it this weekend. The tub is only temporary while we do the research and wait for a day off to build the enclosure outside. In Arizona we can get to temps of 114 or so where we live in the summer. Is that going to be ok for him outside? We are going to give him plenty of space to dig a burrow and have a few different natural habitats.

      The second question is in the winter is it necessary to put a heater outside or will he just go into natural hibernation when the temp drops? We have very mild temps in the winter. I would say the lowest it gets where we are is high 30's.

      The only time I would bring him in is temporarily in the case of a torrential downpour. We have a season of those and they drop a lot of rain but usually don't last very long.

      I hope this helps you answer my question better.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I highly doubt you had a wild Russian tortoise wander into your yard, unless you live in their native country. It probably is someone's pet that got out of an outdoor enclosure. They are very smart and can escape if not housed properly while outside. I'd post an ad online and/or in the paper in case someone is looking for their pet.

      While inside, yes they do need a source of UV, unless you plan on leaving the tort outside during weather extremes- storms, heat, cold, etc. There's no need to put outside for just an hour or for any time during extreme weather; just leave in the tub inside with an alternate UV source. It's necessary.

    • profile image

      Christine 7 years ago

      Is it necessary to use any alternate sources of UV light/heat if my RT is going to have an outside enclosure? We actually had someone drop him off in our rocks in the front yard this morning.....either that or he was wild and just wandered up. I've been researching like crazy today in order to make the best decisions. My husband is going to build an enclosure this weekend and in the meantime he is in a tub. We live in Arizona and I think the temps will be fine outside 8 months out of the year. The other 4 months it will be either below the suggested temps or over 100 degrees....so my question is won't he just go into natural hibernation in the cooler months and in the hotter months should I bring him in the house to a tub and give him an hour or so of outside exposure during the day? I don't want to cook him in the summer but I would rather not have the complication of lights and what not if it isn't necessary. Thanks!

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Check out the link for edible plants and flowers. It'll definitely help out.

      https://hubpages.com/animals/Edible-Plants-for-Tor...

      Be careful buying plants and immediately offering them to your tortoise. Gardens and nurseries use fertilizer in the plants, and you don't want the tort consuming a plant that has fertilizer in the veins (literally). Replant any store bought plants in a non-fertilized soil for several months before offering as a food.

      It's much easier to buy seeds and grow your own.

    • profile image

      Monica 7 years ago

      I have had my RT since November and love him! What a great pet! He did have a fungus on his shell and I have to scrub him with medicine twice a day and take a bath in medicine every other day to get rid of it. He looks much better! Before I looked at the list of edible flowers (again), I was at the store and bought edible flowers in the herbs dept. that I thought he could eat, now I am not sure. I know he can eat the dandelions but the other two flowers I am not sure of. One is I am pretty sure a purple pansy and the other is a burgundy color not sure what it is. I thought it would be ok because people seem to be feeding the RT's things that are not natural to their environment such as fruit that they themselves eat. What do you think? I bought it as a treat. I normally feed him different types of lettuce such as spring mix.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      The commercial pellets aren't needed if you can provide a varied diet of leafy greens, grasses, and weeds. Many tortoises won't even eat them.

    • profile image

      Jana and Lucas 7 years ago

      We just brought home our Russian Tortoise yesterday, March 9. His name is Boris. We've set him up temporarily in a large cage with Tim grass, water, veggie pellets and just now some fresh greens. He is chowing down on the greens. I just love him! BTW, this site is very helpful and informative - thanks!

    • profile image

      Julie 7 years ago

      Wow, is this Steve guy like 12? Why does he own a tortoise?! That was one crazy comment thread I just got sucked into reading. I've had a Russian Tortoise for about 5 years now that is perfectly healthy, and sometimes it doesn't come out for weeks, especially during winter months. That guy needs to chill. He's going to bug his pet to death!

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I would add more weeds if you could. The hibiscus is a good thing to add. It sounds like you've got everything researched. Make sure that when outside there's some sort of lid to prevent birds and predators from trying to get your tort. Also watch closely for digging and escapes; it's generally best that you have chicken wire or hardware cloth 6-10 inches in the ground along the edges of the outdoor enclosure.

    • profile image

      Raquel 7 years ago

      I've had my russian tortoise for like 3 years now but after reading this I had my dad make him an outdoor enclosure. He has a pretty big indoor cage and an even bigger outdoor one. The only thing that I think I've been doing wrong is variety with his diet. I normally feed him spring mix lettuce and like once a week get weeds from outside and like once a month give him hibiscus flowers. Is that enough variety?

    • profile image

      arshumum 7 years ago

      not easy to kept them and look after those animals, you need special care for them

    • rdelp profile image

      rdelp 7 years ago

      I didn't realize the complexity of having a tortoise.

    • Whitney05 profile image
      Author

      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      You'll want to make sure that she's eating other greens than just raddachio. It's not a healthy diet, if that's the only thing she's really eating. I'd try to reduce the raddachio until she starts eating other greens.

    • profile image

      steve 7 years ago

      ok will do. She really likes the radicchio when should i ghange the food for her i always put some red leaf lettuce and turnip greens with the radicchio but she only eats the raddichio.

    • Whitney05 profile image
      Author

      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Just try to set it up similar to the old, and leave her alone for a week or so like before to let her adjust.

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      steve 7 years ago

      Well its been over a month since i brought my little buddy home and she is doing great she has been eating regularly and she really semms to like Raddiccio. i got a sweet deal on a 165 gallon aquarium so i got it i already wraped a material around it so she cant see out and i have not moved her into the new tank yet. any suggestions on how i can reduce the stress from moveing her from my old enclosure to the new one?

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      Kathleen Lewis 7 years ago from Southern Michigan

      I found this Hub while searching for info on the behalf of my nephew. He's interested in getting a tortoise and wants to learn as much as possible before making the move. Thanks for the top notch information.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Sounds like a fungus or algea. What is the humidity? How is the russian tortoise housed? What size enclosure? Substrate? Temperatures? Humidity? What are you feeding the tortoise?

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      Clarissa 7 years ago

      We are a little concerned about our russian tortoise named "Iggy", although he's eating fine and active, his shell seems slightly green as does the top of his head. Any advice?

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      steve, it is good to have her checked out

      john, some say that they will breed better if hibernated.

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      John 7 years ago

      Well done Whitney full of useful info. and spot on my qwestion is do the russions need to brumate or hibernate before breeding?

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      steve 7 years ago

      Ok i found a vet nearby that has a reptile specialist that comes in on certain days when i get the money together i will have her checked out just cause it is not a bad idea to get her checked up and that will help settle my tension.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      steve, just relax. you can't expect her to just start running around the enclosure. If you're that worried, consider a reptile vet to examine her and rule out parasites or any illnesses.

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      steve 7 years ago

      Well jasper has been hideing out in her burrow since tuesday. she has not come out for water or food i can tell cause the water in her bowl is still clean and clear. I am trying to relax and let her get used to the place. but if she does not come on tuesday or wednesday should i be worried?

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      steve 7 years ago

      Oh .. ok the day temps are about 92 -95 degrees in the basking spot the other end is around 70 degrees i haven't been able to probe the burrow cause she has been in there so much.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I'm more referencing day time temperatures. Nighttime temperatures are important as well, though.

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      steve 7 years ago

      ok i will keep an eye on the temps we keep the house at about 63 at night and it usually does not drop below 65 in her tank at night.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      That is good. Just keep an eye on the temperatures, as the outdoor temps are lowering. I've had to add an extra heat emitting bulb (no light) in order to keep mine up. So check them regularly. When the temperatures are low in the enclosure, you'll find they'll hide a little more.

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      steve 7 years ago

      ok patience is the key then. i will wait for a while and see what she does over the next few weeks she ate a few leaves today so i am not to worried any more.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I'd say just leave her be. My guys go through spurts. Lately all they've wanted to do is hide. When I added water to their substrate last night, they went crazy exploring. Today, I'm sure they'll be hiding. Worrying can sometimes be good, but sometimes it can be excessive. Just try to relax.

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      steve 7 years ago

      Ok got it i will put some food in there for her today b4 i go to work and see what happens. Yes i do worry but it is my nature. Thank you for all your help i dont know what would have happened if i did not find this site and talk to you about all my questions. thanx again i will keep you posted and any other questions i have i will ask you first. Thank you again for all your help.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      She may have come out at some time when you're not watching the enclosure. They don't necessarily need to bask, as long as temps are ok. It's normal. Just leave her alone. She'll come out when she's ready to. Check the temps and make sure everything is ok. I wouldn't worry too much, I know you like to stress about everything.

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      steve 7 years ago

      ok she ate last wed and has been in and out of the water dish she relieved herself of both liquid and solid waste after she ate on wednesday all before she went into her hide saturday morning she has been there ever since going on 50 hours now. she has not come out to bask, forage, or drink. should i leave her for a week and then pull her out if she does not come out on her own then try to feed her?

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      steve 7 years ago

      Ok up to a week but the thing is she has not come out of her hide for over 50 hours now not for basking drinking or to search for food. should i turn her around inside her burrow so she knows that the light is on and see what she does? otherwise i will leave her alone for another two or three days then pull her from the burrow and offer her food. Thats if she doesn't come out on her own, on wed of this week it will have been a week since she ate i assume she should be hungry by then.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      It's normal for reptiles to hide for up to a week sometimes longer. As long as your temperatures are good and she is eating and drinking, just let her get adjusted and she'll come around. They're not going to be the most active to begin with though, so don't expect her to run around all day or anything. Mine are most active when outside bc there's more to explore. When inside the most active I've seen them is hunting for food on their feeding day before I've had a chance to feed them in the morning.

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      steve 7 years ago

      Ok she has been hideing out for about 48 hours now i will put some food in her cage today or tomorrow. When should i become concerned?

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      She'll stay in there as long as she likes. She will come out to eat and whatnot, but she's adjusting, expect it. Leave hear alone.

      Carrots aren't great. They break down to sugars. It's not really a good idea to offer them.

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      steve 7 years ago

      ok now as for when she is burried in her burrows how long do they usually stay in there burrows for when they can not see the light? she ate a few pieces of carrot on wedensday but she wont eat the greens i put in there for her today should i not feed her for a few days and let her get hungery then try to feed her?

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      If you couldn't drain it, then you should be fine for more than 2 or 3 days. Just give it a week and then see if you need to add the water.

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      steve 7 years ago

      Ok got it the substrate is still damp from when i put the bed a beast in it was soaked i couldn't strain the water out but i will add some water in a day or two because it is still quite moist. thanx for all your help you have saved me tons of money and answered every question i have and im sure i will be asking more in time. thanks again you have been a huge help.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Sounds good. Just keep the substrate a little moist but not soaked and you should be good to go. You want the substrate to hold shape if you ball it in your hand. I'd suggest just pouring a pan of water in the enclosure once a week and mixing it up. It'll dry before your next water but that's ok.

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      steve 7 years ago

      Ok i got it. I will just have the habba hut and water and food bowl then. i have plenty of space for her to roam around she loves that she can burrow now the bedding at the store was barely an inch deep. she loves her new home. i named her Jasper.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      It's a pet store reptile... :-/ Ok... No decorations. Just hides, water bowl, and food bowl. They don't really play with anything.

      Remember it's best to have the length of the enclosure about 10 times the length of the tort. The width of the enclosure should be 5 times the width of the tort.

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      steve 7 years ago

      What kind of decorations should i put in my little buddies home should i just have the necessities or should there be alot of stuff for my tort to walk around and play with.

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      steve 7 years ago

      ok got it i lined my enclosure i have about 5 inches worth of bedding i took your advice i cut an old flower pot in half to make a temperary hideing place and the rest of my supplies will be here tomorrow. i am bringing my little buddy home tonight im sure she will be happy with the enclosure i made it has at least 3 times the space of her current enclosure. i am not going to feed her for a day or two because she gets so much food at my work.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Volume. It should equal about the same, though. Close to anyway since both are dry materials. Dry versus liquid would cause a greater weight difference than volume. Here you're measuring dry versus dry.

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      steve 7 years ago

      ok i got 2 bags of fertilizer free topsoil and and play sand. you say to use a 50/50 mix by weight or volume?

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Yea they like to burrow, so one block in a 50 gallon tub won't cover the entire floor and will barely cover it with the sand blended in. You may have gotten about a quarter of an inch in some spots though. Like I said I use about 3-4 and sand, but I'd still like more. I need to add a little more playsand.

      You can purchase organic topsoil and use that. Just make sure NO FERTILIZERS. It's much cheaper to purchase one 40 pound bag of natural topsoil versus say 5 blocks of bed a beast. I use the bed a beast bc I bought a case of it since I use it with gecko lay boxes and frog enclosures. I'll definitely be using the organic topsoil when I start running low on bed a beast blocks.

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      steve 7 years ago

      thanx that saves me big time. good thing you told me about using 3 or 4 blocks i bought a three pack so i will get another bick or two just to make sure i got a deep enough beding for this little critter.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      If you bought reptile sand you'd be spending an arm and a leg. Playsand can be purchased at a home department store like lowes for about $5 for 50 pounds or so. You'll want more than one block of bed a beast. I use about 3-4 blocks and the sand, which only gives about 3 inches of substrate give or take.

      Here's a listing of edible plants:

      https://hubpages.com/animals/Edible-Plants-for-Tor...

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      steve 7 years ago

      Ok sounds like a plan but back on the subject of substrates you said a 50/50 mix of bed a beast and sand i have the bed a beast coconut fiber but what kind of sand do you use there are so many different kinds of sands for reptiles.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Recommended foods are pretty much all listed above. The only thing I can do is offer a lengthy list of edible plants that you can plant and grow.