Russian Tortoise

The Russian Tortoise (Agrionemys horsfieldii) is a small chelonian reptile in the Testudinidae family. It is also known as the Afghan Tortoise, the Central Asian Tortoise, Horsfield’s Tortoise, the Steppe Tortoise, or the Four-Clawed Tortoise.

The Russian Tortoise can be various colours, but it usually has a brown or grey-black top dome-shaped shell, called a carapace. It has faded yellow-beige markings between its scutes (scales). It has a paler bottom shell, called a plastron. Its body is straw-yellow and brown. It has a small head and brown eyes. It has four toes on its thick, stumpy legs. 

Russian Tortoise

It grows to 13-25 centimetres (5-10 inches) long. The male has a longer tail and longer claws than the female. 

The Russian Tortoise is native to Central Asia, in countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan. It prefers dry regions. 

It is omnivorous, feeding on plants, fruit, grass, flowers, fungi, and insects. 

The female lays 2-7 eggs, which hatch after 105-202 days. The hatchlings have a sharp egg tooth, which they use to break open the egg. They are born dark-coloured, and grow quickly, gradually gaining their adult colours. 

The Russian Tortoise can live, on average, for 100 years.

Russian Tortoise

[Location of photographs: Tashkent Zoo, Uzbekistan]

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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