Russian Tortoise

The Russian Tortoise, Horsfield’s Tortoise or Central Asian Tortoise, Testudo horsfieldii, is a species of tortoise that is named after the American naturalist Thomas Horsfield. The Russian Tortoise ranges from Afghanistan to north western China, through the countries of Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Baluchistan. It usually lives in dry areas with sparse vegetation.

Russian Tortoises are a small tortoise species, ranging from 6 to 10 inches in length. They are sexually dimorphic in that the females grow slightly larger, males tend to have a longer tail, and females tend to have flared scutes on their shells, while males do not. Coloration varies, but the shell is usually a ruddy brown or black, fading to yellow between the scutes, and the body itself straw-yellow and brown.

Russian tortoises hibernate during winter. During the summer when the temperatures are high they will become dormant. They are avid burrowers and can dig large burrows that are several feet long. They are herbivorous, and active grazers when the temperature is right, consuming a wide variety of weeds and grasses.