Confirming approximate age of my Russian?

Kylie Linnea

New Member
Jul 19, 2015
Location (City and/or State)
Long Island, New York
Hey all!

I know you can't accurately age Russian tortoises until they've died, but I thought I'd try to age Flash Gordon. I've had him for 4 years (since June 2015). He's most definitely wild-caught (as I bought him from Petco, which I know is not ideal, but I didn't know that until after) and in good health according to an exotic pet vet.

I've read a few posts on estimating the age of wild-caught Russian tortoise and gave it a shot. I examined his plastron scutes and could count up to 20 rings, which is the estimated upper-limit. Just wanted to get some second opinions on here!

I've attached pictures from one of my first Instagram posts (dark scutes, small beak) as well as pictures from earlier today (visible rings on the plastron scutes, dark scutes, light bands on upper shell from captive living). Check them out and thanks!!

IMG_1360.jpg IMG_1357.jpg IMG_1356.jpg

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 23, 2008
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
He's probably around 10 years old, but no one can really say for sure. He's almost full grown, though. I doubt he'll get much bigger.

The rings just indicate growth spurts. Depending upon living conditions and food availability, some tortoises have several growth spurts a year, some have none.


Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 17, 2012
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento, CA (Central Valley)
Your tortoise has too much wear on its shell to give a good guess. With brumating species like Russians, you can often tell, but have to look for the major rings and disregard the minor rings. As new keratin is added it normally creates a little ridge with the adjoining keratin. Growth at these seams comes in spurts where the seam expands and then the keratin fills in and then thickens and finally hardens more. When they brumate (or aestivate) there is a deeper groove created as the growth stops for that period. so with species that have an annual cycle to their brumation or aestivation, you can count rings but must make judgements as to the true major, annual rings. I see 6 or 7 major rings that appear to have been from when wild and in a true annual cycle. But there could have been more when younger that have worn down. I like @Yvonne G 's guess of around 10.