Is it Okay to Leave My Russians Outdoors Tonight

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Active Member
5 Year Member
May 7, 2011
Location (City and/or State)
Broomfield, Colorado
As mentioned above, Russian tortoises can tolerate conditions fine, as long as they can burrow and do not become soaked. In the wild, they probably achieve this by burrowing into slopes, so that the rain doesn't get into their burrows (please see my new thread, "Ecology of the steppe tortoise in the wild" for more on this topic). In a backyard, I would think that you could use a doghouse-type structure to cover the area where the tortoise burrow. As long as they stay dry in there, they should be fine.


New Member
5 Year Member
Jul 11, 2011
Location (City and/or State)
Colorado Springs
lynnedit said:
GBtortoises has many years of experience raising tortoises, including Russians.
They are definitely happiest being outside, to some extent, doing what they choose to do. However, conditions to have to be right (dry, not wet).

Brandon, your tortoises sound acclimated. Do they have somewhere dry, where they can burrow down, if needed?

Sorry for just getting back to you, I have been sick with strep throat the last week, not feeling like getting on the computer nor doing anyting else. My tortoises have a very secure outdoor enclosure
with locked lids, substrate 1/2 top soil, 1/2 sand, nice dry hide, they can burrow atleast 6-12 inches if they want. I have just planted Russian Tortoise Grazing Mix in their habitat, coming out nicely, have established Rose plant and Daylily plant in there also. I have had my RTs since Aug 2011 and I love them very much. With 2 veteranarians opinions I decided not to hibernate them this winter to ensure that they were healthy. I did bring in my Russian Tortoises inside the other nite after all the good feedback, thank you for that, this site is awesome!!!

Pets101 said:
I live in Southern California and purchased Ibera Greeks and keep my Adult Ibera Greeks outdoors year round. They hibernate every year around November and wake up from hibernation every year in April. It gets down to the mid to high 30's a few times a year. They are provided a dog house with hay that has been modified to stay dry even during intense storms.

I used to worry so much about them every night the first few years. Going out during rainstorms and carrying the entire dog house inside the house because I was worried about them was common. As time went by I realized that they did not need to be brought inside during cold nights or during the rain.

What an awesome photo, thank you so much for the help.
I would say the same is true with Russians, as long as they are given a shelter that stays DRY.

Mind you, I would not throw a tortoise who has never been out of a heated, glass vivarium into a 30 degree night. I feel like Spring and Summer time is the best time to introduces them to night time temperatures. Of, course I am talking about healthy tortoises.

I have kept and bred many different reptiles. The reasons I love the Mediterranean Tortoises so much is that the Southern California climate allows me to let my tortoises exist in a semi wild state. As wild as they can be in a backyard :).

If I lived in Colorado, I would be trying a similar thing with Russians.

I attached a picture of my favorite tortoise who just recently woke up from hibernation on his own terms. I feel like some times we forget tortoises existed without us.

A more extreme example of this is during a recent conversation with my neighbor, who has been a member of the local tortoises society and has owned many tortoises for over 50 years (the same ones) told me about how five years ago he rescued a Sulcata that's shell was cracked. He repaired the shell with fiberglass.

Over the last five years, he has kept that Sulcata in is backyard without any supplemental heat at night or during the winter. His Sulcata has a series of burrows it uses. That neighbor has some of the healthiest tortoises I have ever seen. That tortoises isnt merely "surviving" , it is thriving.

These are just my experiences.

Just more information from me, I live at ~ 7000 ft elevation, which from a lot of research I did before rescuing 1 RT, and purchasing another RT, is a pretty common elevation for RTs in their natural enviroment in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, China, etc... I wanted to have a tortoise that I could best attempt to provide similar surroundings and the Colorado climate/weather is very similar to their native habitat. Just wanted to make sure everyone knew that I was well-prepared to care for my RTs and I take their safety very serious, thank you everyone again for all the great feedback.
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