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Cole asked in PetsReptiles · 1 decade ago

What do I need to buy for a Russian Tortoise set up?

I'm thinking of buying two Adult Russian Tortoises. What would I need for the set up?

3 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    First you'll need a tank at least 20 gallons also a heat source with substrate and a hide box. It would be easyeir to care for a red eared slider turtle.

  • 1 decade ago

    This was published in Reptiles Magazine by me recently and is the unedited version.


    When it comes to housing the Russian Tortoise Testudo horsefieldi, you need a lot of room. These reptiles have instincts to wander the open spaces where they were from, whether or not they actually came from Kazakhstan or were born in captivity. They will have the instinct to wander, unless you can provide them with sufficient room. I recommend using an outdoor pen in an area where it doesn’t get below 40°-45° F at night. I would recommend investing in a 75 gallon plastic tub, which are found at most home improvement centers and are inexpensive. I would steer clear of metal tubs as these may pull heat from the substrate and many actually use more energy than needed for heating. Unless you plan on breeding them, this will incur a hibernation period during winter when the temperatures are allowed to get this low.

    Quite a few pet stores and their employees would recommend that Tortoises be kept in a large aquarium. This is not their fault, its how they are trained and most of them do not do their own research. Glass or clear aquariums are detrimental to the tortoises’ health because they do not comprehend the glass as a wall that they can not walk through. This could lead to problems like the tortoise flipping over and possibly getting stuck. Depending on décor, and if this happens under a heating element, well I am sure you could imagine the consequences.

    Within the 75 gallon tub you can safely heat and keep your tortoise with all the amenities that they will ever need for their entire life. They will not be able to see out the sides but they will have enough room to wander as they want safely, without risking injury.

    Outdoor Pens

    Outdoor pens must be of a solid material such concrete block, plywood, or solid plastic sheets that the tortoise can not see through. I recommend digging a burrow for your tortoises if they are kept outdoors by digging a ditch about two to three feet long at a 45 degree angle similar to a downward facing ramp. Over this place a piece plywood and then place the dirt back onto the plywood and throw some grass seed on it for a more natural look. Leave the entrance exposed so that the tortoise can enter and exit freely. I would also place a line of blocks buried under the sides of the outdoor enclosure to make sure that they do not burrow their way out into the yard. Usually rocks a couple of feet down are sufficient to prevent this. The ditch itself should be about 18” wide.


    The best substrate I have found for housing the Russian Tortoise Testudo horsefieldi in a captive indoor environment is 50/50 mixture of topsoil and washed play sand, both of which are available at most home improvement stores and are inexpensive as well. If you can’t find topsoil you can also use the expandable bedding bricks available at most pet stores. This allows for some humidity to be held by the substrate, but not so much moisture that it molds begin growing. You might be thinking that this seems odd being that the Russian Tortoise Testudo horsefieldi comes from an arid environment.

    We must also remember that these Tortoises dig burrows which are kept at approximately 70% humidity. They may actually dig burrows for themselves in your tub as well. Substrates to stay away from are newspaper, rabbit pellets, and recycled newspaper bedding. All of these can become moldy if they get wet and this has the potential of leading to other health issues with the tortoise itself.


    During the day it is a must that you provide the tortoises with a source of UVB lighting which will stimulate the production of vitamin D3. This allows proper growth of both bone and shell. Without this the tortoise may develop many medical conditions such as soft shell and improper bone growth, inevitably leading to a large veterinary bill. Russian Tortoises Testudo horsefieldi must also be provided with a proper heat source. So, this may be separate or inclusive of the UVB light.

    My personal preference is to keep the two elements as separate sources. I will typically keep a fluorescent type lamp for the UVB and an incandescent bulb for the heat itself. There are those elements on the market which claim to provide both. I prefer to keep my elements separate because I can change them out as needed and replace the fluorescent and incandescent bulbs separately. As with all reptiles, you must provide them with what is known as a thermal gradient. This means that you have to have a basking spot around 90 to 95° F on one side of the pen. This will insure that the Tortoise will be able to thermoregulate their core temperature to can digest the food and remain active. The other side of the pen should be around the mid to low 70s.

    Source(s): Internationally and nationally published author on the captive care of reptiles, amphibians, and insects kept in the pet industry with over ten years of experience.
  • 1 decade ago

    Solves every problem imaginable.

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