Anonymous:

Hi! I just recently got a baby russian tortoise. I’ve been checking different sources as to find what things are best to feed him, and i can’t seem to find a concrete list of things that will be good for him. Thanks!

Hey There, 

This is a good question. I had a lot of trouble with this at first. There are a lot of different sources some good, some bad, and all confusing. I know I always recommend this site, but I’ve found http://russiantortoise.net to be the clearest when it comes to guidelines for care/diet while also providing more in-depth info (and sources) for further reading/understanding about why things are good or bad for our shells… should you care to read further. 

Here is a list of recommended foods and foods to avoid for Russian tortoises directly from Russiantortoise.net’s Diet page: ( I recommend visiting the link and reading it all through. Its not long and It explains the importance of variety, portion control for indoor torts etc. Really important stuff too. )

GREENS 
Most grocery stores have a decent selection of greens that Russians readily eat. Ideally the greens should be organic and pesticide free. However this is the real world and not all tortoise keepers have access to “ideal” food. So, I have this section as a starting point for a varied diet. The following greens are easily found in my local stores: 
Romaine lettuce (fed on occasion)
Red and green leaf lettuce (fed on occasion)
Endive
Escarole
Radicchio
Chicory
Turnip greens
Mustard greens
Kale
Collards

Spring Mix (mixed salad greens)
cabbage (fed on occasion)

With the above veggies one can develop a good diet. Once again (and I can’t stress this enough) variety is the key!
Don’t feed the same food day in and day out. Mix varieties and choose a different green as the basis every few days. 

OTHER GOOD CHOICES 
Some other favorites of my tortoises that are available:
Hibiscus (flowers and leaves)
Hosta
Sedum
Mulberry leaves
Hen and Chicks
Ice Plants
Prickly pear flowers, fruit and pads (burn the spines off)
Dandelion
Plantain (not the banana type fruit….the weed plantago major)
Mallow (flowers and leaves)
Henbit
Rose (flowers and leaves….make sure no systemic pesticides were used)
Chrysanthemum flowers
Cornflowers Plagiobothrys ssp
Forsythia (flowers and leaves)
Dayflower  Commelina diffusa (flowers and leaves)
Californian Poppy   escholzia  
Chia Salvia hispanica

Make sure all are pesticide and herbicide free.

AVOID 
The following food items should be avoided for a variety of reasons. there are many books and groups that go into great detail…so I won’t repeat them here. At the end of the page are a few links).
All fruit (although fruit is often recommended, its sugar content can lead 
to parasite blooms….just not worth it) the exception is apples due to the high quantity of pectin….but still not frequently.
Iceberg lettuce
Bok Choy
All grains (including bread, pasta etc)
Dog and cat food
Meat
All human food except what’s been listed as “good”
Pellet type foods (An often overlooked factor of pyramiding is grain based diets. These are the pellet food that some claim to be essential to health. They typically contain soy, wheat and or rice. These are high in omega 6 fatty acids which has a negative effect on health. They also have an acidifying effect which causes a leaching of bone. They are high in phytate which binds calcium and other minerals. They also have an unfavorable ca/ph ratio and a low ca/mg ratio which has a negative impact on calcium metabolism. Grains alter Vit D metabolism. Diets high in grains can have a negative impact on bone growth in spite of adequate exposure to sunshine. (http://www.heinenchiropracticcenter.com//nutrition/Diet/Cereal%20article-1.pdf)

(Source Joe Heinen BS, DC, FIAMA, Dipl. Ac. (IAMA)
Copyright 2000- 2013  http://russiantortoise.orghttp://www.russiantortoise.net)

The site also has a list of edible plants and toxic plants, useful should you want to have an outdoor enclosure/garden, or worry about any indoor plants your tortoise gets into. 

As always, its important to note that I’m not a vet of any sort. I can only share the info I’ve learned through reading, advice from others, and what seems to work for Zoya. 

I hope this helps! 

tortoise-adventures:

Meet Hilda.

This is what happens to a tortoise when they are incorrectly cared for. A friend rescued this tortoise – she is a hingeback like my two. Her shell is so deformed it is proving hard to know what subspecies she is. Even her hinge is deformed and she is very overweight. Her shell is thick, misshapen, pyramided, she undoubtedly will have MBD and will likely have much worse problems going on inside. She will take a long time to help get better. She has been kept like this for 15 painful years, when just 3 things could’ve prevented this.

  1. A good UVB and heat bulb – she had none and rarely went outside.
  2. A good species suitable balanced diet – she was fed only banana.
  3. An enclosure suiting her species needs – she free roamed the house and could not be given the high humidity her species needs.

Please research your tortoises needs and prevent this from happening. If you don’t do your research and your tortoises is happy, i hope you remember this photo and think again. 

For reliable care info please see the Tortoise Trust and The Tortoise Table

tortoise-adventures:

Meet Hilda.

This is what happens to a tortoise when they are incorrectly cared for. A friend rescued this tortoise – she is a hingeback like my two. Her shell is so deformed it is proving hard to know what subspecies she is. Even her hinge is deformed and she is very overweight. Her shell is thick, misshapen, pyramided, she undoubtedly will have MBD and will likely have much worse problems going on inside. She will take a long time to help get better. She has been kept like this for 15 painful years, when just 3 things could’ve prevented this.

  1. A good UVB and heat bulb – she had none and rarely went outside.
  2. A good species suitable balanced diet – she was fed only banana.
  3. An enclosure suiting her species needs – she free roamed the house and could not be given the high humidity her species needs.

Please research your tortoises needs and prevent this from happening. If you don’t do your research and your tortoises is happy, i hope you remember this photo and think again. 

For reliable care info please see the Tortoise Trust and The Tortoise Table

tortoise-adventures:

Meet Hilda.

This is what happens to a tortoise when they are incorrectly cared for. A friend rescued this tortoise – she is a hingeback like my two. Her shell is so deformed it is proving hard to know what subspecies she is. Even her hinge is deformed and she is very overweight. Her shell is thick, misshapen, pyramided, she undoubtedly will have MBD and will likely have much worse problems going on inside. She will take a long time to help get better. She has been kept like this for 15 painful years, when just 3 things could’ve prevented this.

  1. A good UVB and heat bulb – she had none and rarely went outside.
  2. A good species suitable balanced diet – she was fed only banana.
  3. An enclosure suiting her species needs – she free roamed the house and could not be given the high humidity her species needs.

Please research your tortoises needs and prevent this from happening. If you don’t do your research and your tortoises is happy, i hope you remember this photo and think again. 

For reliable care info please see the Tortoise Trust and The Tortoise Table

Submitted by teenagegodmomma :

Hi! I was recently given this little dude and I need soooo much help.

I don’t know what he is to begin with. 

I also need to know what to feed him, what to house him in, what the bedding should be, what kind of light to buy, how much light he needs and pretty much anything else I would need to know to care for this tiny guy. 

Right now he is in a hamster cage that is about a foot on all sides and he has a water dish that is big enough for him to soak in (he spends maybe 30 mins every day just chiling in it). It has clay in it and some rocks that he climbs on. I feed him worms that I buy from Walmart. I have just a regular lamp on him when I’m home.

I know this isn’t a good set up but I wasn’t planning on adopting a little friend and I really need some help!

If you could please email me with some advice at amandalyn0629@yahoo.com I would really appreciate it! 

Hey there! So I did some asking around and thanks to @oceanshamen ‘s help it seems like you’ve got a young Chinese Golden Thread (striped neck) turtle hatchling. They aren’t native, but have been found a lot in Florida.  A pond loving turtle that enjoys basking, so a pond/tank, basking platform, and some good UVB/UVA lighting is needed.  Can’t be sure, not seeing him/her in person and not being a vet. I’d say if you acquired him/her you’ll probably want to take a trip to a vet that specializes in exotics to ensure he/she is healthy, parasite free, and verify the set up. 

Anyone else have thoughts?? Answers enabled! 

From Western Mass. Turtle Rescue:

SCIENTIFIC NAME Ocadia sinensis

ADULT SIZE  Male   6” – 8”            Female   10” – 12”

DIET

An omnivorous turtle, but hatchlings and males tend to be more carnivorous feeding on insects, larvae, worms, crustaceans, and carrion, but will take in variety of water vegetation.

Females and older turtles will be primarily herbivorous.

TEMPERATURE RANGE (°F)

Air Temperature:  Low to mid 80s F

Basking Temperature:  Mid 80s F to mid 90s F

Water Temperature: Mid 70s F to mid 80s F

Captive-bred specimens usually acclimate readily to proper enclosures and be fairly parasite-free. Imported wild-caught Chinese Golden Threads require deparasitization which may be outside the newcomer’s experience or desire and must consult a reptile veterinarian

CAPTIVE HABITAT

An enthusiastic basking turtle that often spends most of the day basking. A heat lamp and UVB light source are essential. A submersible heater is recommended, but they can withstand cool temperatures when kept in an outdoor pond. It is recommended that they be over-wintered indoors. Some specimens may hibernate as well, but it is not recommended.

RECOMMENDED ENCLOSURE

For adult males, a minimum 55 gallon tank or larger, while females should have at least a 75 gallon tank. They are reasonably good swimmers and the water should be fairly deep, albeit with driftwood or other ‘tank furniture’ to provide resting areas near the surface. Ocadia sinensis are excellent turtles for ponds habitats and easy to care for

CAPTIVE DIET

Hatchlings will feed on insects, worms, dried shrimp, dried fish, turtle/fish pellets and water vegetation. Adults tend to be more herbivorous and will take in Anacharis, water lettuce, duckweed, other aquatic plants and varied leafy greens such as dandelions, romaine lettuce, kale, collards greens and etc. Always keep leafy greens or aquatic vegetation in the tank and feed turtle pellets sparingly two or three times a week to adults.

OTHER INFORMATION

A hardy turtle and a prolific breeder. However, many imported wild-caught specimens have nicks and pitting from shell rot and/or fungus. Due to the stresses of transit in bad conditions, wild-caught turtles may arrive dehydrated and stressed, making examining the prospective purchase or dealing with a trusted vendor necessary. Deparasitization is a must for wild-caught Chinese Golden Threads, while captive bred specimens are fairly easy to care for similarly to other basking species (cooters, sliders and painted turtles). However, mixing species from distant geographical regions is discouraged since it will increase the likelihood of exposing new diseases.

Hatchlings are highly attractive with light grey/green carapace and orange/yellow discontinuous stripes on the three keels. The striking long-tailed hatchlings, are active and popular pet turtles in Asia comparable to the popularity and availability of the Red Eared Slider (RES) of North America.

Even more info here on the World Chelonian Trust site

??

vividdream-studio:

“Dax”

Species: Terrapene Carolina Carolina (Eastern Box Turtle)

Age: 3.5 years

Dax’s Story

Dax is an adopted rescue turtle, but before being rescued her life was very different than it is now. She was born a wild turtle, and was found in someone’s backyard when she was only a hatchling. Without knowing how to properly care for a box turtle, the person kept her for the next few years of her life. Dax was not given the kind of habitat she needed, or the right diet, as evident by her now deformed shell. I don’t know the specifics of the short comings of the care this individual gave her, but from the account of those who rescued her, it was terrible. 

This little turtle should have been left in the wild where she could’ve lived a long life and possibly contributed her genes to the slowly reproducing Eastern Box turtle. These box turtle are dwindling in numbers, and their infant mortality rates are very high. Not to mention that many adults are injured or killed on roadways often. Wild turtles should be left wild. Please either adopt from a rescue or buy captive bred.

When Dax was finally brought into a turtle rescue (Mid-Atlantic Turtle & Tortoise Society), she had metabolic bone disease. For a full year, she was fostered by one of the group’s members, and her health turned around. She is permanently deformed, and will likely not grow much larger than she is currently (3” straight carapace length). Because of this deformity, she may also not live the same long lifespan of an average box turtle, which is normally 60 to 100 years.

Despite her difficult start in life, she has plenty life and personality in that little turtle body of hers. 

I was actually contacted by M.A.T.T.S. since I had adopted from them before, and they inquired if I would be interested in taking her. I had to think it over, but eventually, the turtle bug got hold of me and I said yes.

In March of 2013, she was driven down from Maryland to Florida to her new home. From the first moment I saw her little curious head look up at me, I knew that she had plenty of personality. She’s very observant even now. 🙂

After settling in to her new habitat, Dax has become used to the daily routines of eating healthy, soaking, and chilling out under her basking lamp. 

Her diet consists of veggies, greens, some fruits, Mazuri turtle pellets, earthworms, crickets, and cuttlebone. She also gets the occasionally treat of cooked chicken, tuna, or egg.

Her habitat is a large plastic tub with a mixture of Eco-Earth and Sphagnum moss for substrate, with one side being more moist than the other. She has two or three hides, a water pan for soaking, fake plants, and UVB and heat lamps over head.

I feed her 3-4 times a week outside her tank to avoid messes, and her habitat is sprayed 1-2 times daily. 

Dax was adopted from the good folks over at MATTS http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/matts.html

Check them out if you’re interested in giving a turtle in need a forever home!

vividdream-studio:

“Dax”

Species: Terrapene Carolina Carolina (Eastern Box Turtle)

Age: 3.5 years

Dax’s Story

Dax is an adopted rescue turtle, but before being rescued her life was very different than it is now. She was born a wild turtle, and was found in someone’s backyard when she was only a hatchling. Without knowing how to properly care for a box turtle, the person kept her for the next few years of her life. Dax was not given the kind of habitat she needed, or the right diet, as evident by her now deformed shell. I don’t know the specifics of the short comings of the care this individual gave her, but from the account of those who rescued her, it was terrible. 

This little turtle should have been left in the wild where she could’ve lived a long life and possibly contributed her genes to the slowly reproducing Eastern Box turtle. These box turtle are dwindling in numbers, and their infant mortality rates are very high. Not to mention that many adults are injured or killed on roadways often. Wild turtles should be left wild. Please either adopt from a rescue or buy captive bred.

When Dax was finally brought into a turtle rescue (Mid-Atlantic Turtle & Tortoise Society), she had metabolic bone disease. For a full year, she was fostered by one of the group’s members, and her health turned around. She is permanently deformed, and will likely not grow much larger than she is currently (3” straight carapace length). Because of this deformity, she may also not live the same long lifespan of an average box turtle, which is normally 60 to 100 years.

Despite her difficult start in life, she has plenty life and personality in that little turtle body of hers. 

I was actually contacted by M.A.T.T.S. since I had adopted from them before, and they inquired if I would be interested in taking her. I had to think it over, but eventually, the turtle bug got hold of me and I said yes.

In March of 2013, she was driven down from Maryland to Florida to her new home. From the first moment I saw her little curious head look up at me, I knew that she had plenty of personality. She’s very observant even now. 🙂

After settling in to her new habitat, Dax has become used to the daily routines of eating healthy, soaking, and chilling out under her basking lamp. 

Her diet consists of veggies, greens, some fruits, Mazuri turtle pellets, earthworms, crickets, and cuttlebone. She also gets the occasionally treat of cooked chicken, tuna, or egg.

Her habitat is a large plastic tub with a mixture of Eco-Earth and Sphagnum moss for substrate, with one side being more moist than the other. She has two or three hides, a water pan for soaking, fake plants, and UVB and heat lamps over head.

I feed her 3-4 times a week outside her tank to avoid messes, and her habitat is sprayed 1-2 times daily. 

Dax was adopted from the good folks over at MATTS http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/matts.html

Check them out if you’re interested in giving a turtle in need a forever home!

vividdream-studio:

“Dax”

Species: Terrapene Carolina Carolina (Eastern Box Turtle)

Age: 3.5 years

Dax’s Story

Dax is an adopted rescue turtle, but before being rescued her life was very different than it is now. She was born a wild turtle, and was found in someone’s backyard when she was only a hatchling. Without knowing how to properly care for a box turtle, the person kept her for the next few years of her life. Dax was not given the kind of habitat she needed, or the right diet, as evident by her now deformed shell. I don’t know the specifics of the short comings of the care this individual gave her, but from the account of those who rescued her, it was terrible. 

This little turtle should have been left in the wild where she could’ve lived a long life and possibly contributed her genes to the slowly reproducing Eastern Box turtle. These box turtle are dwindling in numbers, and their infant mortality rates are very high. Not to mention that many adults are injured or killed on roadways often. Wild turtles should be left wild. Please either adopt from a rescue or buy captive bred.

When Dax was finally brought into a turtle rescue (Mid-Atlantic Turtle & Tortoise Society), she had metabolic bone disease. For a full year, she was fostered by one of the group’s members, and her health turned around. She is permanently deformed, and will likely not grow much larger than she is currently (3” straight carapace length). Because of this deformity, she may also not live the same long lifespan of an average box turtle, which is normally 60 to 100 years.

Despite her difficult start in life, she has plenty life and personality in that little turtle body of hers. 

I was actually contacted by M.A.T.T.S. since I had adopted from them before, and they inquired if I would be interested in taking her. I had to think it over, but eventually, the turtle bug got hold of me and I said yes.

In March of 2013, she was driven down from Maryland to Florida to her new home. From the first moment I saw her little curious head look up at me, I knew that she had plenty of personality. She’s very observant even now. 🙂

After settling in to her new habitat, Dax has become used to the daily routines of eating healthy, soaking, and chilling out under her basking lamp. 

Her diet consists of veggies, greens, some fruits, Mazuri turtle pellets, earthworms, crickets, and cuttlebone. She also gets the occasionally treat of cooked chicken, tuna, or egg.

Her habitat is a large plastic tub with a mixture of Eco-Earth and Sphagnum moss for substrate, with one side being more moist than the other. She has two or three hides, a water pan for soaking, fake plants, and UVB and heat lamps over head.

I feed her 3-4 times a week outside her tank to avoid messes, and her habitat is sprayed 1-2 times daily. 

Dax was adopted from the good folks over at MATTS http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/matts.html

Check them out if you’re interested in giving a turtle in need a forever home!

vividdream-studio:

“Dax”

Species: Terrapene Carolina Carolina (Eastern Box Turtle)

Age: 3.5 years

Dax’s Story

Dax is an adopted rescue turtle, but before being rescued her life was very different than it is now. She was born a wild turtle, and was found in someone’s backyard when she was only a hatchling. Without knowing how to properly care for a box turtle, the person kept her for the next few years of her life. Dax was not given the kind of habitat she needed, or the right diet, as evident by her now deformed shell. I don’t know the specifics of the short comings of the care this individual gave her, but from the account of those who rescued her, it was terrible. 

This little turtle should have been left in the wild where she could’ve lived a long life and possibly contributed her genes to the slowly reproducing Eastern Box turtle. These box turtle are dwindling in numbers, and their infant mortality rates are very high. Not to mention that many adults are injured or killed on roadways often. Wild turtles should be left wild. Please either adopt from a rescue or buy captive bred.

When Dax was finally brought into a turtle rescue (Mid-Atlantic Turtle & Tortoise Society), she had metabolic bone disease. For a full year, she was fostered by one of the group’s members, and her health turned around. She is permanently deformed, and will likely not grow much larger than she is currently (3” straight carapace length). Because of this deformity, she may also not live the same long lifespan of an average box turtle, which is normally 60 to 100 years.

Despite her difficult start in life, she has plenty life and personality in that little turtle body of hers. 

I was actually contacted by M.A.T.T.S. since I had adopted from them before, and they inquired if I would be interested in taking her. I had to think it over, but eventually, the turtle bug got hold of me and I said yes.

In March of 2013, she was driven down from Maryland to Florida to her new home. From the first moment I saw her little curious head look up at me, I knew that she had plenty of personality. She’s very observant even now. 🙂

After settling in to her new habitat, Dax has become used to the daily routines of eating healthy, soaking, and chilling out under her basking lamp. 

Her diet consists of veggies, greens, some fruits, Mazuri turtle pellets, earthworms, crickets, and cuttlebone. She also gets the occasionally treat of cooked chicken, tuna, or egg.

Her habitat is a large plastic tub with a mixture of Eco-Earth and Sphagnum moss for substrate, with one side being more moist than the other. She has two or three hides, a water pan for soaking, fake plants, and UVB and heat lamps over head.

I feed her 3-4 times a week outside her tank to avoid messes, and her habitat is sprayed 1-2 times daily. 

Dax was adopted from the good folks over at MATTS http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/matts.html

Check them out if you’re interested in giving a turtle in need a forever home!

caged-freedom:

Guys. This little guy was infront of my door and I’m going to care for him until I find his real home if I find it. But I need help in how to take care or turtles or tortoises.

Now that is a beautiful onel! Looks like a tortoise to me,.. Where are you located? you want to make sure he/she isn’t a creature from the wild that just wandered over and has a home somewhere out there that is human free. 

caged-freedom:

Guys. This little guy was infront of my door and I’m going to care for him until I find his real home if I find it. But I need help in how to take care or turtles or tortoises.

Now that is a beautiful onel! Looks like a tortoise to me,.. Where are you located? you want to make sure he/she isn’t a creature from the wild that just wandered over and has a home somewhere out there that is human free. 

This video shows us what happens when turtles and tortoises have improper care. 

It was created by a turt/tort mailing list member a while back. Its difficult to watch but makes an incredibly important point about caring for our shelled friends. Its vital to do as much research as possible on our little ones and the proper care for their particular breeds. Its also important to spread as much knowledge as possible about the appropriate care to others. There is a ton of miss information out there (especially at pet stores.. but thats a rant for a different day) so it doesn’t hurt to pass along the info we owners have. This video is a sad reminder of what happens far too often when people don’t realize what they are getting into/what is required to care for our turtle and tortoise friends. 

On a personal Note: 

When Zoya first came into my life, I had no idea how to care for a tortoise. I had a small tank, some pamphlets I found at the pet store and some rabbit pellets for substrate. Also had a small UVB lamp and a small basking lamp. I set it up and hoped I was giving her the best housing possible. Well, after falling instantly in love with her, and being a researcher at the time, I wanted to know everything there was to know about tortoises. I read a million websites with lots of conflicting information, joined some message boards specific to Russian tortoises and turtles and torts in general, and two fantastic Yahoo mailing lists (that I recommend to everyone caring for a tortoises or turtle). 

It quickly became clear that I was doing it ALL WRONG. A glass tank isn’t the best for Russian tortoises (and most tortoises really) as they don’t get enough air flow and its hard to keep the proper temperature and humidity gradients. Torties are incredibly smart but they still can’t comprehend the idea of glass and will ram into the sides trying to get out not understanding why the air is hard. Lots of UVB is vital to their growth and metabolizing of calcium. They won’t develop properly without it. A UVB/Heat combo light is 1000 times better than a little UVB lamp and basking light (though this depends on your set up in some ways) having a ton more UVB and making it easier to keep a good gradient of 95 degrees at basking spot and 75 degrees in cool areas.. Pellets aren’t a good substrate since they’ll eat them and it leads to bowel issues and grows mold. Coconut Coir (comes in bricks or bags) is the best substrate and its cheaper and easier to keep moist, mixed with some play sand its perfect. 

There is a lot more where this came from. The “Tort Tools” link on the Tort-time site (or click here!) has a list of resources I found invaluable to making sure Zoya has the best care possible. Check them out!