Dumb Question about Russian Tortoise Sub-Species

jsheffield

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Hello,

I live with two Russian Tortoises, both rescues, both (seem to be) thriving currently.

chilipic.jpg

Chili, the male, is (I believe, based on online research) a Testudo horsfieldii horsfieldii, based on his being domed and nearly as wide as he is long.



persephonepic.jpg

Persephone, the female, is (I believe, based on online research) a Testudo horsfieldii kazachstanica, based on her being much flatter and nearly as wide as she is long.




The differences weren't/aren't necessarily apparent in photos, but on living with them for a while and handling them for health-checks and weigh-ins and to transport them between inside and outside enclosures, they became clear and indisputable (to me at least).

The dumb question, based on my observations of the two, both in my hands and while moving around their enclosures is:

Can sub-species of tortoises have differently articulated shoulders and hips, and different patterns of motion?

I ask because Chili seems to have much less range of movement in both his front and rear legs than does Persephone, who almost seems double-jointed. All four of Persephone's limbs can reach much further backward and in more complete arcs than can Chili's.

Chili also seems to rise much higher (relatively) off of the ground when walking, up on his toes. Persephone does not extend her legs fully downwards when she walks, they go more out to the side.

It occurred to me that one or the other of them could have some mobility issue due to rough miles before they came to live with me, but since I only have the two, I cannot determine which one is moving more like a standard Russian, or if the sub-species do move somewhat differently.

I'd love input or thoughts about this, about them.

Thanks,

Jamie
 
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Markw84

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Jamie

What you are describing sounds like Persephone had some MBD issues going on when you got her. All of what you are noticing can be signs of the effects of MBD, including the flatter shell.
 

zovick

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Hello,

I live with two Russian Tortoises, both rescues, both (seem to be) thriving currently.

View attachment 298062

Chili, the male, is (I believe, based on online research) a Testudo horsfieldii horsfieldii, based on his being domed and nearly as wide as he is long.



View attachment 298065

Persephone, the female, is (I believe, based on online research) a Testudo horsfieldii kazachstanica, based on her being much flatter and nearly as wide as she is long.




The differences weren't/aren't necessarily apparent in photos, but on living with them for a while and handling them for health-checks and weigh-ins and to transport them between inside and outside enclosures, they became clear and indisputable (to me at least).

The dumb question, based on my observations of the two, both in my hands and while moving around their enclosures is:

Can sub-species of tortoises have differently articulated shoulders and hips, and different patterns of motion?

I ask because Chili seems to have much less range of movement in both his front and rear legs than does Persephone, who almost seems double-jointed. All four of Persephone's limbs can reach much further backward and in more complete arcs than can Chili's.

Chili also seems to rise much higher (relatively) off of the ground when walking, up on his toes. Persephone does not extend her legs fully downwards when she walks, they go more out to the side.

It occurred to me that one or the other of them could have some mobility issue due to rough miles before they came to live with me, but since I only have the two, I cannot determine which one is moving more like a standard Russian, or if the sub-species do move somewhat differently.

I'd love input or thoughts about this, about them.

Thanks,

Jamie
Normal tortoise locomotion involves the animal getting up on all four legs and walking with their entire body lifted well off the ground. It sounds as though Chili is exhibiting normal walking behavior and Persephone is not.

It may be from MBD as Mark mentioned, but on the other hand, I have noticed over the years that some tortoises are quite reluctant to fully extend their limbs for a period of time after being introduced to a new environment. That may be in play here.

You didn't mention it, but it sounds as though you are keeping them together. Therefore another consideration is that she may be possibly be being intimidated by your male's presence and that is why she is not fully rising up on her legs. His getting way up and strutting around could be an attempt to intimidate her and show dominance she she is now in his territory. If that is the case, her behavior may be normal.

Final point, you should keep all new arrivals separate from your own tortoise for a period of quarantine (often 3 months or more) to make sure the new tortoise(s) is/are healthy and without parasites or illness before putting them together. With Russian Tortoises, the males are very relentless in attempting to breed the females so it is probably a good idea to keep them separated anyway except for brief introductions for breeding purposes. If you don't want to breed them, they never need to be put in the same enclosure.
 

jsheffield

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Normal tortoise locomotion involves the animal getting up on all four legs and walking with their entire body lifted well off the ground. It sounds as though Chili is exhibiting normal walking behavior and Persephone is not.

It may be from MBD as Mark mentioned, but on the other hand, I have noticed over the years that some tortoises are quite reluctant to fully extend their limbs for a period of time after being introduced to a new environment. That may be in play here.

You didn't mention it, but it sounds as though you are keeping them together. Therefore another consideration is that she may be possibly be being intimidated by your male's presence and that is why she is not fully rising up on her legs. His getting way up and strutting around could be an attempt to intimidate her and show dominance she she is now in his territory. If that is the case, her behavior may be normal.

Final point, you should keep all new arrivals separate from your own tortoise for a period of quarantine (often 3 months or more) to make sure the new tortoise(s) is/are healthy and without parasites or illness before putting them together. With Russian Tortoises, the males are very relentless in attempting to breed the females so it is probably a good idea to keep them separated anyway except for brief introductions for breeding purposes. If you don't want to breed them, they never need to be put in the same enclosure.

I'm not keeping them together, and was still isolating them in a quarantine (Persephone came to live with us 11 weeks ago), but the other day (about a week ago now) Chili somehow scaled the wall of his outside enclosure to get into hers, and I caught the two of them going at it.

Since the quarantine was pretty well broken at that point, I decided to keep them living separately (to avoid stress and exhaustion on either of their parts) but to put them together to breed. I've been leaving them together for 10-ish minutes every day, then separating them. My thinking that a week of breeding attempts should work if anything will, and then I'll keep them apart and see what happens.

I'm curious about the MBD and will have to do some more research. Persephone gets around quite well, it just looks a little different than the way Chili gets around. She's quite strong. She's got a great appetite and is eating a wonderful diet now, which I hope can make up for shortcomings in her diet prior to coming to live with us to some degree.

I wonder if it's more a case of her still being somewhat new to living here... a few of my other torts took months before they began eating and acting regularly... I was suckered by the fact that she ate well and explored her enclosure (unlike Chili) from the very first day.

Thanks very much for the responses so far!

Jamie
Jamie
 
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zovick

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I'm not keeping them together, and was still isolating them in a quarantine (Persephone came to live with us 11 weeks ago), but the other day (about a week ago now) Chili somehow scaled the wall of his outside enclosure to get into hers, and I caught the two of them going at it.

Since the quarantine was pretty well broken at that point, I decided to keep them living separately (to avoid stress and exhaustion on either of their parts) but to put them together to breed. I've been leaving them together for 10-ish minutes every day, then separating them. My thinking that a week of breeding attempts should work if anything will, and then I'll keep them apart and see what happens.

I'm curious about the MBD and will have to do some more research. Persephone gets around quite well, it just looks a little different than the way Chili gets around. She's quite strong. She's got a great appetite and is eating a wonderful diet now, which I hope can make up for shortcomings in her diet prior to coming to live with us to some degree.

I wonder if it's more a case of her still being somewhat new to living here... a few of my other torts took months before they began eating and acting regularly... I was suckered by the fact that she ate well and explored her enclosure (unlike Chili) from the very first day.

Thanks very much for the responses so far!

Jamie
Jamie
Well, it sounds as though you are doing the right things. I would say to just give her some time and see if she begins to walk more normally over the next few weeks or so. Perhaps she was kept in a really cramped situation that didn't allow her to use her leg muscles properly and now that she is a better place, she will regain some of her muscle coordination and begin to walk more upright.
 

jsheffield

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Well, it sounds as though you are doing the right things. I would say to just give her some time and see if she begins to walk more normally over the next few weeks or so. Perhaps she was kept in a really cramped situation that didn't allow her to use her leg muscles properly and now that she is a better place, she will regain some of her muscle coordination and begin to walk more upright.
Thanks for your replies, Zovick!

I appreciate it. There's so much to learn about living with tortoises, especially the ones who lived elsewhere before they came to live with us.

Jamie
 
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jsheffield

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I'll post some video of both of them walking in their enclosures tomorrow, for comparison purposes... it's so funny, I assumed that if one of them had MBD it'd be Chili because his previous owner described his life as so shitty, but I obviously don't know what happened with Persephone before she came to NH.

Vid tomorrow

Jamie
 

Crush da Baum

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I'll post some video of both of them walking in their enclosures tomorrow, for comparison purposes... it's so funny, I assumed that if one of them had MBD it'd be Chili because his previous owner described his life as so shitty, but I obviously don't know what happened with Persephone before she came to NH.

Vid tomorrow

Jamie
Oh you are a writer. (Sorry off topic) That is so cool. What do you write about?
 

MichaelL

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I (personally) don't think it is MBD, Persephone sounds healthy and her shell has grown perfectly and very smoothly. I think that it may be possible that because she is way bigger and heavier, she is more lazy to carry all her weight and walks with her legs out more because of that, rather than walking higher. Or it IS possible that because of the difference in subspecies, her shell slightly differs in ways other than size and this causes her to walk differently. Just guesses though.
 

Ink

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I can personally say that Persephone is a very solid, big tortoise. She does sleep different with her legs. I think she is just big and maybe when she feels healthier from eating a proper diet she will gain muscle. Good luck!
 

Kim&Tim

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Hello,

I live with two Russian Tortoises, both rescues, both (seem to be) thriving currently.

View attachment 298062

Chili, the male, is (I believe, based on online research) a Testudo horsfieldii horsfieldii, based on his being domed and nearly as wide as he is long.



View attachment 298065

Persephone, the female, is (I believe, based on online research) a Testudo horsfieldii kazachstanica, based on her being much flatter and nearly as wide as she is long.




The differences weren't/aren't necessarily apparent in photos, but on living with them for a while and handling them for health-checks and weigh-ins and to transport them between inside and outside enclosures, they became clear and indisputable (to me at least).

The dumb question, based on my observations of the two, both in my hands and while moving around their enclosures is:

Can sub-species of tortoises have differently articulated shoulders and hips, and different patterns of motion?

I ask because Chili seems to have much less range of movement in both his front and rear legs than does Persephone, who almost seems double-jointed. All four of Persephone's limbs can reach much further backward and in more complete arcs than can Chili's.

Chili also seems to rise much higher (relatively) off of the ground when walking, up on his toes. Persephone does not extend her legs fully downwards when she walks, they go more out to the side.

It occurred to me that one or the other of them could have some mobility issue due to rough miles before they came to live with me, but since I only have the two, I cannot determine which one is moving more like a standard Russian, or if the sub-species do move somewhat differently.

I'd love input or thoughts about this, about them.

Thanks,

Jamie

I have a 5 year old rescue russian who lived in a 12x12 inch enclosure, if that's what you want to call that, for 4 years, without uvb, water and with a lamp, so very hot.

He's doing great now, but he still walks weird, a bit wide. In the beginning it was way worse, but now he climbs very well, he walks, but still a bit wide. Maybe it will be a little better in the future, but I think it is what it is tbh.

But he's doing great, he manages, he does everything.
 

jsheffield

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<iframe width="560" height="315" src="
" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

This features two short videos of Persephone walking (jogging in the first one). She moves quite fast, but just seems to me not to get as high off the ground as Chili, my other Russian, does... she gets around well, and seems healthy, so I'm not worried about it so much as curious.

Thanks for the replies.

Jamie
 

Ink

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She does have a swagger along with her attitude LOL. She moves very fast. Maybe before they fed her alot but not a lot of exercise and she needs to build up her muscles. Who knows...I do know she is a very healthy eater.
 
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