New Russian tortoise here!

BowserTurtle

New Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2024
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Portland, OR
Hello tortoise forum, new Russian tortoise owner in the PNW.

I got her at a local pet store in December and was told she is a girl. She is eating well and seems pretty healthy! Anyone have an estimate on how old she could be?

I was also told she’s captive bred, does anyone else agree based on the pictures?

Thanks!

IMG_2387.jpegIMG_2008.jpegIMG_2369.jpegIMG_2271.jpeg
 

TechnoCheese

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
Messages
4,509
Location (City and/or State)
Lewisville, Texas
Welcome to the forum!
You have an adult tortoise, and North American pet stores almost always buy their tortoises from venders who source them wild caught. It is not cost efficient to spend the years and resources raising a tortoise until it is 4 inches or larger and can be legally sold, only to sell it for a low price at a pet store. It is very likely that yours is wild caught, though it is more pyramided and has a slightly different shell coloration than some other russians that are definitely wild caught.

I've personally noticed at least two different variations of Russian tortoises at US pet stores. One with a more "Brown" coloration and a completely smooth or mostly smooth shell, which is definitely wild caught, and one that looks more like yours, with that slightly "quilted" pyramiding look and a much darker color. It could just be in my head, but I wonder if they're sourced from different areas, or if maybe the darker, more pyramided ones are collected and kept in penned off areas outdoors until they're 4 inches and large enough to be sold, and then shipped to the united states. I'm confident that the smoother, more "brown" ones are just field collected. It's also entirely possible its just normal variation between individuals and I'm reading too far into it. Regardless, your tortoise could be anywhere from 4 to 15 years old or older. There's no guaranteed way to tell for sure.

If you show us a plastron picture that includes her tail, we can sex her.

You likely got a lot of bad info from the pet store. I recognize the enclosure you're using, and it's too small and not really suitable for any species. It won't hold humidity for young tortoises without lots of modification, will mold in that humidity assuming it's made of wood, and it's too small for any tortoise old enough to no longer require high humidity. Your tortoise requires an enclosure size of 8 x 4 feet or similar.

Have a read through this. If Romaine lettuce is a large part of your tortoise's diet, that needs to change, too. https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/the-best-way-to-raise-any-temperate-species-of-tortoise.183131/

Unfortunately, most of the information for tortoises on the internet is terribly outdated or flat out incorrect, so you can do months, even years of research and find out too late that all of it was wrong. It happened to me, and it happens to most new keepers. Now that you're here, though, all of that good information is right at your fingertips :)
 
Last edited:

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
64,195
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hello tortoise forum, new Russian tortoise owner in the PNW.

I got her at a local pet store in December and was told she is a girl. She is eating well and seems pretty healthy! Anyone have an estimate on how old she could be?

I was also told she’s captive bred, does anyone else agree based on the pictures?

Thanks!

View attachment 365439View attachment 365440View attachment 365442View attachment 365443
Hello and welcome to the forum! Congrats on the new baby!

I agree with all the TechnoCheese assessments and answers.

Here is more info in addition to what TechnoCheese linked for you:
 

BowserTurtle

New Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2024
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Portland, OR
Welcome to the forum!
You have an adult tortoise, and North American pet stores almost always buy their tortoises from venders who source them wild caught. It is not cost efficient to spend the years and resources raising a tortoise until it is 4 inches or larger and can be legally sold, only to sell it for a low price at a pet store. It is very likely that yours is wild caught, though it is more pyramided and has a slightly different shell coloration than some other russians that are definitely wild caught.

I've personally noticed at least two different variations of Russian tortoises at US pet stores. One with a more "Brown" coloration and a completely smooth or mostly smooth shell, which is definitely wild caught, and one that looks more like yours, with that slightly "quilted" pyramiding look and a much darker color. It could just be in my head, but I wonder if they're sourced from different areas, or if maybe the darker, more pyramided ones are collected and kept in penned off areas outdoors until they're 4 inches and large enough to be sold, and then shipped to the united states. I'm confident that the smoother, more "brown" ones are just field collected. It's also entirely possible its just normal variation between individuals and I'm reading too far into it. Regardless, your tortoise could be anywhere from 4 to 15 years old or older. There's no guaranteed way to tell for sure.

If you show us a plastron picture that includes her tail, we can sex her.

You likely got a lot of bad info from the pet store. I recognize the enclosure you're using, and it's too small and not really suitable for any species. It won't hold humidity for young tortoises without lots of modification, will mold in that humidity assuming it's made of wood, and it's too small for any tortoise old enough to no longer require high humidity. Your tortoise requires an enclosure size of 8 x 4 feet or similar.

Have a read through this. If Romaine lettuce is a large part of your tortoise's diet, that needs to change, too. https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/the-best-way-to-raise-any-temperate-species-of-tortoise.183131/

Unfortunately, most of the information for tortoises on the internet is terribly outdated or flat out incorrect, so you can do months, even years of research and find out too late that all of it was wrong. It happened to me, and it happens to most new keepers. Now that you're here, though, all of that good information is right at your fingertips :)


It was a reptile store, not petsmart lol I don’t feel the need to elaborate about where she’s from in a welcome post. Her enclosure is 6 x 3 with a cool side and a warmer side with a heat rock and coconut for substrate. She’s about 4.5 inches big. I took a picture of her eating a huge piece of lettuce cause it was cute. Thanks for your concern though!
 

Ink

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jun 10, 2016
Messages
2,763
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
Welcome to the forum. Does your tortoise have a name?
 

BowserTurtle

New Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2024
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Portland, OR
Thought it would be fun to join a tortoise forum but seems pretty clique here and people are kinda rude lol. Have fun on your forum guys! Bye
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
93,602
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
You're grading our Forum on the basis of one or two replies? Not cool. Works both ways. How would you feel if we formed opinions of you based on your one post?

I generally welcome new members, but now I'm not so sure.
 

BowserTurtle

New Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2024
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Portland, OR
You're grading our Forum on the basis of one or two replies? Not cool. Works both ways. How would you feel if we formed opinions of you based on your one post?

I generally welcome new members, but now I'm not soI generally welcome new members, but now I'm not so sure.

And then you pile on… I have social anxiety, maybe you shouldn’t judge behind your keyboard.

Bye
 

TechnoCheese

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
Messages
4,509
Location (City and/or State)
Lewisville, Texas
It was a reptile store, not petsmart lol I don’t feel the need to elaborate about where she’s from in a welcome post. Her enclosure is 6 x 3 with a cool side and a warmer side with a heat rock and coconut for substrate. She’s about 4.5 inches big. I took a picture of her eating a huge piece of lettuce cause it was cute. Thanks for your concern though!
My apologies, your enclosure looks a lot like a 3 x 2 foot one you can purchase on Amazon that I very commonly see. Unfortunately, though, many reptile stores still purchase wild caught Russians. Every time I go to a reptile expo, there are boxes and boxes of wild caught Russians sold by vendors, often claimed to be captive bred. It is possible yours could be captive bred, but in that case it is odd for them not to know the age. You might contact them about it and see if you can get a hatch date, or what vendor they sourced her from.
 

BowserTurtle

New Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2024
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Portland, OR
My apologies, your enclosure looks a lot like a 3 x 2 foot one you can purchase on Amazon that I very commonly see. Unfortunately, though, many reptile stores still purchase wild caught Russians. Every time I go to a reptile expo, there are boxes and boxes of wild caught Russians sold by vendors, often claimed to be captive bred. It is possible yours could be captive bred, but in that case it is odd for them not to know the age. You might contact them about it and see if you can get a hatch date, or what vendor they sourced her from.
They gave me an age, I wanted to have someone else’s opinion so I came here.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
93,602
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
The tortoise in the picture looks fairly young to me. Probably around three years?
 

TechnoCheese

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
Messages
4,509
Location (City and/or State)
Lewisville, Texas
They gave me an age, I wanted to have someone else’s opinion so I came here.
What age did they tell you? I really would contact the store to see where they got her.

I’m really having trouble figuring out what has you upset about the replies on your post. I tried to answer your question with as much information as I could, along with a great source of updated information for your species. I was not trying to demean you in any way. When I joined, everything I had was wrong and so much of what I knew was outdated, even after doing over a year of research, so I know that many people joining have some misconceptions even if they’ve put so much effort into learning about their species. I try to pack as much information as I can into my posts so that other people don’t have to learn the new stuff as slowly as I did, and not as a means of condescending. Everyone has welcomed you, and Tom provided you with a great thread full of information. I don’t doubt that you’ve done tons of research and are a responsible keeper, but I know first hand that that isn’t always everything. There has been so much change to tortoise care standards in the past decade, and most resources online haven’t caught on. I’m worried you may have interpreted the tone of my first post differently than I actually wrote it.
 

BowserTurtle

New Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2024
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Portland, OR
What age did they tell you? I really would contact the store to see where they got her.

I’m really having trouble figuring out what has you upset about the replies on your post. I tried to answer your question with as much information as I could, along with a great source of updated information for your species. I was not trying to demean you in any way. When I joined, everything I had was wrong and so much of what I knew was outdated, even after doing over a year of research, so I know that many people joining have some misconceptions even if they’ve put so much effort into learning about their species. I try to pack as much information as I can into my posts so that other people don’t have to learn the new stuff as slowly as I did, and not as a means of condescending. Everyone has welcomed you, and Tom provided you with a great thread full of information. I don’t doubt that you’ve done tons of research and are a responsible keeper, but I know first hand that that isn’t always everything. There has been so much change to tortoise care standards in the past decade, and most resources online haven’t caught on. I’m worried you may have interpreted the tone of my first post differently than I actually wrote it.

I guess she’s 15+ years old like you said in your first response!! 🤣🤣🤣
 

TammyJ

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2016
Messages
7,628
Location (City and/or State)
Jamaica
I think I’m gonna ask for others opinions but thanks.
You won't find many people with more accurate and experienced opinions than Yvonne. Most of us came here to share and learn, and I am very glad I stayed. It's a great tortoise site.
 

TechnoCheese

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
Messages
4,509
Location (City and/or State)
Lewisville, Texas
I guess she’s 15+ years old like you said in your first response!! 🤣🤣🤣
I promise I really am trying to help you and your tortoise, not trying to condescend. I started at 4 because it often takes a few years for them to reach the size of your tortoise in the wild, with my original assumption that she was wild caught. I set the upper limit at 15+ because it is very difficult, if not impossible, to accurately tell the age of a tortoise. The tortoise could be younger if it was kept in adequate conditions, which will speed up their growth, but that is incredibly unlikely for most captive bred Russian tortoises purchased as adults. Low humidity also has the tendency to slow their growth, and unless it’s just the pictures and it could be, your Russian appears to have some pyramiding that would imply moderately dry conditions while growing. I asked how old they said she was so that we could establish whether or not that age was in the realm of possibility for your tortoise’s size.

Most adult Russians in the United States are wild caught. With the law that prohibits the selling of tortoises and turtles less than 4 inches in length put in place, importing tortoises from the east is the most common way sellers get them. There’s no raising involved, no cost to house long term, and more can be sold for a lower price with the high supply. Unless you are purchasing the tortoise as a hatchling, buying a captive bred retired breeder, or buying a tortoise the shop themselves have raised from a hatchling, it is not a bad assumption that a Russian is wild caught. But, I suppose, you know what assumption makes out of u and me. I am not calling you a liar, or even the pet store. It is entirely possible they received a shipment of Russians from whatever vendor they use and were told it was captive bred, as they tend to do. It is also possible that your tortoise actually is captive bred, and figuring out who the store got her from is the best way to figure that out.
 
Last edited:

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
93,602
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
My "guess" at the age was because there are no growth rings, yet it's as large as the hand holding it. A 15 year old tortoise would have many growth rings.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
93,602
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Whoa! I take it back. The picture I was going by was the one where the tortoise appears black. I just now looked at ALL the pictures and you can see many growth rings in the lettuce picture. My amended guess is 10-12 years.
 

New Posts

Top