Can I ask you a question or two? Does Zoya ever have periods of when she’s just not really active, maybe even just wanting to sleep? Or is she active all the time? I’ve been wondering for a while. I don’t know for sure what is average behavior for Russian tortoises (though I suspect there isn’t really such a thing), and you seem to know more about them than me, so I thought I’d ask. Thanks for any info you can share. 🙂

Hey There! Of course you can ask a question or two, or even three if you want 🙂 I love (obviously hah) to share anything I know with other tort lovers/ owners. I’m not a vet or certified in anything so of course I can only share my opinion based on caring for Zoya and doing some reading. Always gotta put that out there.  So here is a REALLY long response to your question 🙂 

Yes, Zoya definitely has periods of time where she isn’t very active. She has days (especially in the winter) where she will sleep the day away and not nibble much of her food, long as a week. Today, for example, she didn’t eat all her food and hit the log for a really early bedtime (see pic)

From what I’ve been told and what I’ve read, that is normal. I know they are pretty attuned to the weather (like most animals) and when its gross and stormy out she tends to be much less active. This made me incredibly nervous for a while hah. I am an overprotective tortie mom. Longer I’ve had her the more I’m able to decide its just one of those days. ya know?

In the winter they naturally hibernate. Since Zoya is an indoor tortoise I have decided (for now) not to hibernate her. Many people do hibernate their torts for the winter. Its a detailed process and I am not quite comfortable with it for Zoya. I live in a studio and have only mini fridges. Consistent temps etc are not easy with those and its just too risky in my opinion. Maybe one day I will. ( you can read about the process here)

I try really hard to maintain a proper temperature gradient in her terrarium (95 under the basking lamp and cooler areas down to 70 in places outside of that).  I also give her a soak ever 2-3 days in warm water. Helps to keep her hydrated. 

I’m not sure where you live but I’m in Massachusetts and it gets cold and dry here. When the heat comes on it gets even drier. That can make keeping her hydrated harder. I set up a heat humidifier by her terrarium that runs pretty much constantly in the winter. It helps her somewhat AND it helps me (cause I get nasty nose bleeds in the winter). 

One way I learned to check hydration in your tortoise is to check their pee. I know Zoya tends to go when she’s in the bath or sometimes when she eats (eww). Their pee is sort of a combo of water and what looks like bird poo. hah. The white substance in it are the urates. Thats normal. What you wanna look at is how grainy or hard it is. The more hydrated your tortoise is the creamier and less rock like the urates will be. If its stoney you might want to soak a bit more often. 

I’d say you’re right about average behavior. They tend to do what they want to do, when they want to do it, no matter what we do. Regardless keeping an eye on ‘normal’ behavior for your tort is always a good thing. Its also good to keep an eye out for signs of a problem. 

I hope this helps! Feel free to ask away. I’m not always so quick to respond but I’ll do my best (still have a few I plan to respond to soon!) Thanks for reading tort-time by the way 🙂 Keeping this up is the best part of my day. Hope you and your tort (s) have a happy new year! 

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