Russan tortoise stopped eating - change in behavior - scared

Tony G

New Member
May 11, 2023
Location (City and/or State)
Los Angeles, CA
Hi there,

I bought a russian tortoise in July 2022. I was told he is between 2-3 years old. His behavior has been consistent - wakes up, goes to the food tray and eats, then basks for a couple hours. Around noon we would take him out of the tortoise house and have him play around the living room for a couple hours. Back to the tortoise house, eat again, bask again. He would eat at night again and then sleep.

Diet consists of spring mix, lettuce, and kale. Occasionally we throw in some carrots and spinach. Once a week reptivite and calcium supplement.

He was eating a good amount 2-3 times per day and his behavior was consistent up until this week. It's been 3 days now - I noticed he stopped eating and at times we catch him trying to eat small pieces of the substrate. I put food in front of him and he ignores it. He does not want to drink water either. He does not go to the food tray anymore. He's not running around aggressively like he would before. He seems depressed and lethargic.

Temperature in the box near the basking light is 83F / 31% humidity

I did not know what brumation/hibernation was until now. I read a bunch of web sites to get an understanding of what it is. i have attached photos of him.

Is he preparing to hibernate or is he sick?


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Last edited:


Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Sep 6, 2011
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Temp needs to be 95-100 basking
Over all a range of 75-80
Night can go down into 60's but not lower
They do not brumate during spring and summer. They start late fall and into winter
The diet needs less kale and much more variety.
The water dish needs to go. It's dangerous, most tortoises don't use them. Replace with terracotta saucer.
Do not let him roam the floors of your house. It's too dangerous and too cold most days.
The enclosure is too small for him, suitable size for hatchling but over all a bad enclosure that really shouldn't be sold. He needs a 3x6 or for an adult 4x8. The larger size will be easier to give the span of temps.
Use tube florescent for uvb. Incandescent flood bulb for basking and ceramic heat emitter if heat is needed.


Active Member
Oct 2, 2022
Location (City and/or State)
West Midlands, England
Welcome Tony. Many of us received poor advice when we first acquired our tortoises, as unfortunately much of the care information is outdated/incorrect. Luckily, this forum has many experienced keepers who are happy to advise.

Temperature affects digestion, so if your temperatures are off, that might be one explanation for the lack of appetite. They're unlikely to eat if their core temperature isn't where it should be. Your humidity is quite low, so I would give your tortoise a regular soak in shallow warm water to help him hydrate - be sure to keep the water warm but not hot.

What is your light/heat schedule? Tortoises are diurnal, so they need a suitable day/night cycle. Cuttlefish bone is a good source of natural calcium that they can nibble on when they feel like it.

If you find it more helpful to read information in one place rather than answer questions, then this thread is a great place to start: Have a read through a few times, as it will help you troubleshoot and fix any husbandry issues. Questions still encouraged though, of course!