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All About the

Russian Tortoise

russian tortoise close up.jpg


The Russian tortoise (Testudo [Agrionemys] horsfieldii), also called the Horsefield’s Tortoise, the Afghan, the central Asian, the Steppe, or the four-toed tortoise, are found in rocky deserts in Russia,

Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, often at very high elevations. There, they live in large underground burrows, where they hibernate for many months during times of extremes in temperature. With a relatively small size but big personality, the Russian Tortoise is one of the most popular

tortoises kept as a pet. They are very active and responsive to their owners, and they make great first reptiles when cared for properly. They are relatively easy to care for and have fairly long lifespans,

often living for more than 40 years.


Born at about an inch in length, these tortoises may reach 8-10 inches-long when mature, with females being slightly larger

than males. The carapace (top part of the shell) ranges from a tan to yellow to olive color, with brown to black markings. The plastron (bottom shell) is either solid black or has blotches of brown or black. Their tail tip is hard and bony and longer in males, and their skin is tan to yellow colored. One unique feature that makes Russian Tortoises stand out from other tortoises

is the presence of four claws on each foot – hence, their other known name, the “four-toed tortoise.”

The Russian Tortoise is one of the most popular tortoises kept as a pet.

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