How to Take Care of Russian Tortoise


So, long ago when I just got my tortoises, I realized people have no idea of how to properly take care of these little things in order to avoid diseases and all other kind of unpleasant stuff. People think tortoise don’t really demand much care, but they actually do! What I’m going to talk about does 100% apply to Russian Tortoises; however, I believe it can also work for alike kinds, but I still suggest to double check. 

You should have:

• A terrarium. Your tortoise should not be on the floor or any other places but it’s terrarium, as it is pretty cold for it on the floor and you can also occasionally step on it. It should be in a warm place (don’t put terrarium on the windowsills, so as tortoise might catch a cold). If you can’t get a real glass terrarium, you can get just a big plastic box from Walmart or any other place. 

• 2 lamps: heating and UV. As long as tortoise’s shells need calcium, they need sunlight, but it is not always possible to spend 12 hours per day outside with the pet. At this point, UVB lamps 10.0% should be provided. It is suggested to change UV lamp at least once per year. Heating lamps should be 40-60 watt. Both lamps should be open for 12 hours.

• Base. Base layer should be at least 10 cm. It is better to use mix of hay and pressed sawdust. DO NOT USE sand or soil, because it’s not good for tortoise to be in this dust. 

You should do:

• Bath. You should give your tortoise a bath at least once per week for 30-15 minutes. (Check video on my profile for more details). Temperature should not be lower than 30 degrees celsius and not higher than 35 (use special water thermometer which you can get in baby’s section in any store). 

Why it takes so long? The thing is, that you should give your tortoise time to drink (they absorb water through skin) and also to relieve themselves. Don’t forget to change water once they did it and to dry them with soft towel after bath (✿◠‿◠)   

• Food. You DON’T have to feed your tortoise every day. As long as they are no longer in their natural habitant, (where they actually eat around once per week), they don’t walk much, but eat a lot, which can lead to obesity. With that said, it is better to give them food once in 2 or 3 days. 

What is better to feed them with? Lettuce, pumpkin, red pepper, carrots, dill, dandelions. Make mix of, for example, lettuce, pumpkin and carrots. From time to time you can treat them with apples, but be careful, don’t give too much, otherwise it will lead to gastric problems. Make sure all foods are warm (not right from the fridge)!

NEVER FEED TORTOISE WITH HUMAN FOOD (milk, cheese, meat, bread, whatever else you can find on your table). Tomatoes and cabbages are also BAD for them.     

• Cut nails and beak. Since you’ve noticed your tortoise has nails that give it hard times moving, or a beak that does not allow it to eat, means that it’s time to cut it a bit. Usually there is no need to cut a beak in couple of years and you are supposed to cut nails once in about half of the year. Often there is no need to cut a beak if you feed your tortoise right, but if you think it’s too big, it is suggested to do so.

Helpful videos on how to cut nails and beak (sorry, there are no good videos in English):



If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, ask a vet for help _〆(。。)

• Go for a walk. In summer, when the temperature is higher than 20 celsius, it is good to take your tortoise for a walk, so it can enjoy real sun and eat some fresh plants. But be careful and don’t lose your pet ʘ︵ʘ

More important things:

• Tortoise SHOULD NOT go into hibernation. Even though in their natural habitant they do, while living in captive they should be active all year round! If they will sleep in wintertime it might be dangerous for their health. 

If you noticed your tortoise wants to go into hibernation, try to give it a bath more often (like 3 times per week).

• DO NOT color their shells and DO NOT smear it with anything.

• Try to keep them away from contact with other animals, so as it gives tortoise lots of stress. 

• Vets don’t always know how to treat tortoises properly, so it is better to double check on the internet if you got any suggestions or if you got any medication prescribed to your tortoise.

I hope it was helpful, and don’t hesitate to ask questions if you have any ◕ ◡ ◕

No single care sheet is the end all be all! So do your research and collect information and make educated choices for your shell baby 😀