How Big Do Russian Tortoises Get? Scrutinizing Their Size | Kidadl


How Big Do Russian Tortoises Get? Scrutinizing Their Size

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Tortoises of the Russian tortoise species hibernate for three months a year.

Russian tortoises belong to the arid climates of Russia, Iran, China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The natural habitat of Russian tortoises is rocky surroundings at 7,000 ft (2,133.6 m).

The Russian tortoise, also called the central Asian tortoise, the Afghan tortoise, the four-clawed tortoise, the Horsfield's tortoise, and the steppe tortoise, is endemic to central Asia, and is currently threatened. This species is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. Human activities have been the main reason for their conservation status. This tortoise can feed on plantains, lamb's lettuce, and many other dark leafy greens, in captivity. This turtle's diet should be varied and include different kinds of lettuce and juvenile dandelions. However, any plants must be fed in moderation because dandelions can have side effects, and lettuce lacks the required nutritional value. Your pet turtle will need a constant water supply even though this arid species will receive water from its food. A female Russian tortoise grows a little larger than a male. An adult Russian tortoise can live past the age of 40 years. These tortoises can weigh around 2-4 lb (0.9-1.8 kg).

Locals who live around these reptiles' habitats exploit these creatures for food and the pet trade leading to the current conservation status of these tortoises. Habitat destruction and degradation caused by warfare, farming, livestock grazing, and development are all threats faced by Russian tortoises.

If you enjoy reading these facts about how big do Russian tortoises get, then make sure to read some more interesting facts about can tortoises swim and do tortoises hibernate here at Kidadl.

How long does it take for a Russian tortoise to reach full size?

It takes around 15-20 years for a Russian tortoise to reach its full size.

A Russian tortoise's shell cannot reflect any color and the shell is mostly ruddy brown or black in color, which fades into yellow towards the back. The body is also a mix of brown and yellow. One unique feature that makes these tortoises stand out is four nails on each of their feet. The carapace or shell size of a newborn baby Russian tortoise is only up to an inch (2.5 cm) in length. What about the Russian tortoise size in general? The adult Russian tortoise size range varies between 8-10 in (20.3-25.4 cm) in length. Although most Russian tortoise species reach their maximum size by the age of 15-20 years, some continue to grow even after 30 years of age. These Russian tortoises are 0.66-3.3 lb (300-1,500 g). A Russian tortoise is considered a small pet.

Russian tortoises are usually captive bred; however, they are not really domesticated. They do make good pets and they will need a specific diet and temperature in captive enclosures. A Russian tortoise pet can cost you around $100-$200. A healthy Russian tortoise will have a well-sealed and smooth plastron, the underside of the shell. This part is usually softer in hatchlings. The upper part of the shell is also smooth without any irregularities in a healthy Russian tortoise. A healthy Russian tortoise is also able to follow a regular diet without issues and its urates are semi-liquid and white. A healthy tortoise will also be quite active, coming out for basking and soaking and also digging a burrow now and then to rest in.

Some symptoms for illness to look out for are listlessness, weight loss, difficulty walking, or lethargy. Bleeding from the tortoise's shell or skin irregularities are also signs of sickness. Wheezing or breathing difficulties are bad signs for tortoises as well. Another symptom of illness is discharge from the nose, eye, or mouth. Every tortoise has three essential parts to its shell: the plastron on the bottom, the carapace on the top, and a bridge joining these two parts. Russian tortoises are great for beginner pet owners as these active animals can be tamed easily. However, they do need careful monitoring and care. In the beginning, give your pet some space to get accommodated with its new place. Try not to pick it up unnecessarily as it can increase stress in your pet.

The Size Difference Between Male And Female Russian Tortoises

Female Russian tortoise on a piece of wood.

Females grow up to 6-10 in (15-25 cm) and males reach 5-8 in (13-20 cm) in length.

It is quite difficult to differentiate female and male Russian tortoises since both have identical shell colors and shapes. The common and easiest way to tell males apart from females is by the tortoise's tail. A full-sized adult male Russian tortoise's tail is thin, long, and pointed. The male carries the tail to one side when he walks. A full-sized adult female tortoise's tail is fat, short, and triangular in shape. The cloaca of the male is present at the end of the tail whereas the female's cloaca is present closer to the body. The cloaca of the female is closer to the body to accommodate the egg-laying process. For males, it helps to hold the penis to allow mating. The shape of the cloaca is like an asterisk in females and a slit in the tail for males. Females grow up to 6-10 in (15-25 cm) and males reach 5-8 in (13-20 cm). Both genders can live up to 40 years of age. The size difference is not always a reliable way to tell the difference between male and female reptiles. Some Russian tortoises might just grow naturally longer. The lower part of the shell or plastron is flat in both males and females. However, this part is an identification factor in many tortoises.

After coming out of hibernation after six months, males will chase females with by a squeaking sound. At around 6 in (15 cm), a female is large enough to produce eggs. The mating season starts in March and ends in May. A female lays two to six eggs inside a burrow and incubates her eggs at an adequate temperature. Young adults that have a carapace length of about 5 in (13 cm) are usually imported because they can handle those conditions and can also fit into shipping crates. It is always recommended to take a new tortoise to the vet as soon as you get it. Most tortoises of this species are caught in the wild, so it is best to get a check-up done. Stress from being in a new environment can bring up underlying conditions. This can happen with any long-term caught tortoise and captive-bred tortoise. Make sure the vet checks the weight and also checks for parasites in fecal matter to make sure your pet is healthy.

Before laying eggs or even digging, the female becomes restless and scans the perimeter around the enclosure. She might stop eating a few days or weeks before she lays eggs. She will also start to dig out one or more test nests for her eggs. After she lays eggs, chalking begins. This chalking covers up the entire surface of an egg. Make sure not to move eggs after chalking. If eggs are moved, then the fetus might detach from the shell of the egg and will most likely die.

Ideal Habitat Setup

The ideal habitat setup for your Russian tortoise includes proper temperature, humidity, lighting, plants, and water; and an indoor and outdoor enclosure.

Russian tortoises prefer arid, warm temperatures with low rainfall. These reptiles occupy hillsides, steppes, deserts, and grasslands. They only retreat when the temperature is too harsh for up to a few months. It is best to have enclosures for your reptile both indoors and outdoors. Thick cinderblock walls should cover the outdoor enclosure. The wall must extend a few inches deep into the soil to avoid digging by your reptile. Also, make sure to put up solid fencing that has no holes in it. These outdoor enclosures must have plenty of plants and grasses. Fescue grass and Bermuda Rey are great options. More plants are better for your reptile, like desert sage and prickly pears. All plants you place in the enclosure must be edible and non-toxic. Place several hide boxes for your reptile to use to hide from heat or to keep warm in. The indoor enclosure must be natural. Your Russian tortoise will need the same shelter, plants, and rocks when kept indoors. You can use loose substrate for digging. Coconut fiber, peat moss, cage carpet, cypress mulch will also work. UVB light is necessary for your Russian tortoise for basking in which helps the tortoise use stored calcium. Russian tortoises need almost 10 hours of sunlight or UVB light. This UVB light is only needed indoors and no extra light is need for an outdoor enclosure. Wild Russian tortoises have easy access to the sun.

The humidity level needs to be around 40-50%. A hygrometer in the tank can be used to keep an eye on the humidity level. If the level changes it can cause a number of health issues. When humidity drops, mist the environment. This way the substrate and plants will hold on to moisture. In an outdoor enclosure, you can create a humid spot to retain moisture, which can be done by spraying water in any corner of the enclosure. You can place a pan with water big enough to fit the tortoise when it is soaking. Russian tortoises clean their nose and eyes. The water must be clean and fresh.

You can use a glass tank of about 5 sq ft (0.46 sq m) with 12 in (30 cm) walls; a larger tank is also fine for your Russian reptile.

Russian Tortoise Care

Russian tortoise care is easy as long as you learn how to care for your pet tortoise. This tortoise species must be provided with a proper diet and a suitable outdoor and indoor enclosure.

The Russian tortoise diet usually consists of leafy greens, vegetables, and flowers. It is difficult to find suitable green plants for these reptiles; hence, alternative food can be given to them for better health. You need to identify edible greens for your pet. These reptiles eat all the available greens in the wild like flowers, weeds, and vegetables. The captive tortoise can eat foods like dandelion greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, and collard greens. All leftover food in the enclosure must be removed after two hours. You can also add vegetables to the diet like squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, corn, and peppers. Your pet can eat treats like berries or apples twice a week. Calcium supplements can be added to food twice a week; however, if the Russian tortoise is outside, it won't need calcium supplements. There are certain foods that must be avoided as they can be toxic. Oxalic acid in spinach can cause kidney stones and failure. Phytic acid in cereals, peas, and beans is also not good. Goitrogens will impact iodine intake in Russian tortoises. Goitrogens are present in food like dog and cat food, bok choy, meat, and all grains. Purines and tannins are also harmful. Female Russian tortoises can be housed together and they will have no issues sharing the enclosure. However, males tend to fight over territory and they cannot be placed together.

Russian tortoises are not usual cuddly pets like cats and dogs. However, these tortoises have no problem being handled when necessary. Until they build trust with their owners, these tortoises will try to bite. You need to wash your hands after you have handed your pet to get rid of any salmonella bacteria. Hibernation is not a need but a necessity for tortoises. In captivity, where you can vary temperatures, these reptiles won't hibernate in winter. It is not good for your pet's health to hibernate in captivity.

There are many health issues faced by captive-bred Russian tortoises. If a Russian tortoise is kept in poor temperatures and ventilation, particularly inside the house, then this tortoise is prone to respiratory infections. Factors like parasites, fungi, bacteria, and viruses can cause these infections. A common illness in Russian tortoises is gastrointestinal parasitic infections. These infections are caused by eating expired food, by unsanitary enclosure conditions, or by coming in contact with another pet. You can visit the vet to get an antiparasitic prescribed for these infections. These tortoises are prone to metabolic bone disease. This is caused if tortoises don't get enough light and don't get a proper diet. Nutrients like vitamin D, phosphorous, and calcium are necessary for daily activity and a healthy lifestyle.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestion for how big do Russian tortoises get, then why not take a look at how big do red-eared sliders get or Russian tortoise facts.

<p>With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.</p>

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