Monday, February 20, 2012

Russian Tortoises: My Guide

I've had quite a few requests and questions for more information on my tortoise and I thought today would be perfect seeing as it's a holiday and there is no mail! I plan on working on a few letters afterwards!

So, if you haven't already noticed, I won, Scooter, a Russian Tortoise. He is six years old and I haven't a clue on his birthday as I adopted him about 7 months ago or so. I don't think I need to post a photo since he's more or less all over my blog! He's about 6-7 inches long and that is the largest he will be getting. males can get to 5-8 inches and females are larger, between 6 and 10 inches. Russians are one of the few species of tortoises that will stay small even when full grown. Unlike Sulcata tortoises (see below.), Russians can be housed indoors for their entire life if need be! And that's a long life, too...I'm going to have to will my tortoise to someone because Russians can live to 75 years old!

Here's another size comparison...that is a kiddy pool...

The tortoises shown above can live to 100 years old and get up to 100+ pounds! Funny how something so small and cute can get so enormous! They can be housed indoors until they get too big, and then one must make a tortoise house! People usually make them out of large dog houses or sheds. I actually plan on eventually getting a Sulcata!

Here is a similar photo of Russians. The largest one would be the size of Scooter, so you can image how small the baby is!

Another photo, not mine (above isn't mine either.) for size:

Also, these guys aren't just from Russia, they come from nearby deserts as well!

The best bit about tortoises are their personalities! People assume that reptiles don't have personalities, but I can assure you, tortoises do! You can probably see that from my photos of my little shelled man, but they can be truly hilarious! Someday, when I get a chance, I'm going to have my own herd of them in my yard! Oh, speaking of yard! Scoot lives in an outdoor pen (that he frequently escapes...we plan on making some changes this summer...) when it's warm, and then in a bin in my closet during winter (which he also frequently escapes as you all know...). Next winter, I will be purchasing him a larger bin that he won't be able to escape from or building a 'tortoise table' or basically a wooden table with high sides and hides and whatnot.

As far as food goes, Russian (ie. Scooter.) eat pretty much anything and a LOT of it! My mother is always surprised by how much this little guy can cram in to him! Dark greens, veggies, various fruits...Also, they make special tortoise diet, but I have yet to purchase it. I have some that I wet and mix in with his veggies, plus calcium powder for his shell, and that's about it. He recently tried strawberry for the first time as well as pears and LOVED it! Calcium is super important as well as getting the right type of lighting (light equal to the rays he would get from the sun: UV and UVB. (it's confusing sometimes!) in order to ensure that his shell doesn't grow with deformities.

Just for fun, here are some photos of other species of tortoises!

Leopard Tortoise:

Pancake Tortoise (they are flat!):

Aldabra Tortoise (yes, you CAN own these! And yes, that tortoise IS as big as it looks...):

Red Foot Tortoise:

Cherry Head Tortoise:

Yellow Foot Tortoise:

Indian Star Tortoise (quite expensive!):

Didn't know there were so many, huh? There are quite a few more as well! Surprisingly, all of the torts except the ones noted are all normally under $200 a piece, which is a great price.

Anywho, there is my short guide! If any of you are curious about anything or have questions (or want to buy one!! hehe.) feel free to ask some questions! Hopefully that wasn't totally boring!


Photos 1 and 10 credit to


Max said...

Your tortoise's shell should not be 'pyramiding' like that. That's a sign of either dietary deficiency, dehydration/insufficient humidity, or both.

Lady Kay said...

None of the tortoises posted above are my own. Scooter does have a teeny bit of pyramiding, however he was like that when I adopted him and I'm currently providing what is needed to maintain where his shell is at now. It's nice that you assumed that I'm not taking proper care of my own tortoise.

Marina said...

I didn't even know that there are so many kinds of tortoises!

SaskiaHamilton said...

I was enjoying reading about scooter and then you went and threw in a photo of a really cute pug as well!? This is officially my favourite non mail post ever :D

JEN said...

Thanks for sharing this- I love the pics that you have on other posts of Scooter. I actually started your letter last night and was going to ask all about tortoises, but I guess I'll focus my questions on Scooter instead ;)

Lady Kay said...

Haha, I totally forgot about your pug love, Jennifer!

And not many people know that there are so many species! it's really fascinating! And they are all so cute!

Kathleen Martin said...

Lady Kay,

I enjoyed your post,Scooter,the photos, and other information you provided on your spot.
I hope the assumption by "Max" (that your rescue tortoise's pyramiding must be due to YOUR neglect!)was overlooked and that you continue to show compassion for tortoises.
(He sure pounced on the opportunity to show his bit of knowledge, didn't he?)

I have an adopted sulcata who was shot by some "fun loving" kids when he was 3 years old. Even now, I have been asked "What is that (healed over)hole from?", followed by, "Why did you shoot him?" =O/

I felt better when I began to use the opportunity of this insult to be an ambassador for my tortoise (and other abused animals). When you teach what actually happens in the real world but that with a bit of compassion, I now have an amazing tortoise/friend named, "Marvin", the world can be a better place in spite of everything.

You are an angel, keep doing what you do.
=) Kathy

Anonymous said...

Photos #1 and #10 were taken by me and I never got a request from you to use them. Please take them down or credit me for them. These were probably taken from my old website that is no longer available

Charlie Apple said...

great pictures, yes most russian tortoises come from around the Mediterranean but some as far as the Middle East and North West Africa! Thanks for sharing!

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