Russian or Horsfield's Tortoise

Horsefields tortoise.
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Scientific Name:

Agrionemys horsfieldii or Testudo horsfieldii (Recently given its own genus as Agrionemys horsfieldii, but still commonly referred to as Testudo horsfieldii).

Common Names:

Include Russian tortoise, Afghan tortoise, Afghanistan tortoise, steppe tortoise, central Asian tortoise, four-toed tortoise, and Horsfield's tortoise.


Around 50 years


Russian tortoises get anywhere from 4-8 inches long.


Russian tortoises should be fed grasses, vegetation, and flowers of non-poisonous plants and weeds, and leafy greens. Natural grazing of grasses, weeds, and plants ( lists edible plants) is ideal, but if not available feed a variety of greens (dandelion greens, endive, escarole, mustard greens, kale, romaine lettuce, collards) as well as hay (timothy or bermuda). Avoid fruits, grains, or animal protein. Supplementation with calcium and vitamin D3 powder is recommended.

Housing - Outdoors:

Russian tortoise-like burrowing and they will retreat to their burrows in the heat of the day and at night. This means the fence of their outdoor pet must be sunk into the ground. The species tolerates a wide range of temperatures but does not tolerate damp weather well, so a dry, warm retreat is necessary. Daytime temperatures should probably range in the low to mid-80s F (higher 20s C) during the day, with a drop at night. A shallow dish of water should be provided.

Housing - Indoors:

Russian tortoises don't tend to do well if indoors all the time. Provide an enclosure at least 2 feet by 4 feet, with sand/soil as a substrate, ideally deep enough to allow burrowing. A basking spot at about 90-95 F (32-35 C) should be provided, with temperature gradient down to about 70 F (21 C). A hide box should be placed at the cooler end of the temperature gradient. A UVA/UVB producing lamp is necessary. A shallow dish of water can also be provided. Humidity should be about 60 percent.


Russian tortoise naturally hibernate (but only allow healthy tortoises to hibernate).

Care Sheets Online:

  • by Joe Heinen DC - Resource dedicated to the proper care of Russian Tortoises.
  • Russian Tortoise - by Darrell Senneke and Chris Tabaka DVM, a good discussion of the care of this species.

Species Information