Monday, March 24, 2014

A Russian Has Invaded My Home

Not a mad Russian like Rasputin, not Czar, nor a Russian leader like Putin or a soldier or diplomat, not even a Russian citizen but definitely a Russian by name if not by origin. Truth is, this little Russian, a tortoise - Testudo horsfieldii or the Russian Tortoise (aka: Horsfield's Tortoise among other names) - could be from a number of places like: Afghanistan; Armenia (Armenia); Azerbaijan; China; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Pakistan; Russian Federation; Tajikistan; Turkmenistan; Uzbekistan (source).

I got rid of 8 bearded dragons today and was able to pick this guy in doing so. The dealer gave me a 20% break from his asking price and I could not resist. I was hoping to get a sexed pair but the only females I saw were at another dealer than the one where I got this one. Those others looked pretty lame (closed puffy eyes, not attentive, not moving, limp necks or in other words like they were ill). So me having a pair will have to wait. The one I picked up was active, alert, eyes wide open, had no mucous or dried out secretions around the eyes, nostrils or cloaca and had a good body weight making me think it is on the healthy side. I am anxious to acquire a female so I can try a breeding project. In general these tortoises are from semi-arid to arid regions in the above listed countries. They endure fairly hot summers and long cold winters during which they brumate. In nature they eat what plants they can find such as grasses, weeds and broad leafed plants. Since they brumate for at least 6 months, and aestivate in the hot summer months, they have little time to achieve peak condition for breeding and eat as often as they can do so in nature. A sample of what they can be fed in captivity can be seen on the page at this link:

They are pretty easy to care for if some basic principles are followed. I have kept Hermann's and Redfoot Tortoises with some success and should have little difficulty, if any, with the Russians - certainly fewer and easier problems than Obama is having with Putin. If you are interested in keeping Mediterranean tortoises, the group in which the Russian Tortoise is a member, some basic care information for them can be found here:

All the best,
Glenn B