I would like to get a Russian tortoise! (I've never owned a tortoise before)

Summer✨

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Joined
Oct 15, 2020
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
Washington State
Hello! I'm super new here and would like to own a Russian tortoise! All I really know about them is that they are pretty cute and they can't exactly live in glass tanks. I'd like to know what to get for my tortoise. There's a lot of stuff you need from what I can tell. Like water conditioners and even cuttle stones? (I thought only birds needed those) I'd really like a big list of everything I need! Like stuff from what I need to buy for their enclosure to their diet. I'd also like to know a little bit about the laws in my state (Washington State) and about the laws in Idaho, I'll be moving there soon and I'm going to buy a tort once we move. I'm super excited to get a tort and I want to know everything I can about them! :tort::<3:
 

jsheffield

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Sep 29, 2018
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Westmoreland, NH

Read that post, and some of the other careguides in the Russian forum, and you'll be well on your way... I love my Russians.

Jamie
 

Summer✨

New Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2020
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
Washington State

Read that post, and some of the other careguides in the Russian forum, and you'll be well on your way... I love my Russians.

Jamie

Thank you!
 

jsheffield

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Westmoreland, NH
Thank you!
You're very welcome. I think Russians are a great choice for a first tortoise. They're pretty hardy, don't get huge, and I think they have great personalities.

I live with three rescue Russians, all adults, and because they're a bit tougher as regards my climate here in NH, they get outside more often and live in open enclosures (as opposed to the closed enclosures my Redfoot and MEP live in to insure their humidity levels).

Their favorite thing to do is to roam around their outside enclosures and eat dandelions all day long.

Once you've read up some, please feel free to ask a million questions... this is the best place I've found for information on any kind of tortoises.

Jamie
 

Tom

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Hello! I'm super new here and would like to own a Russian tortoise! All I really know about them is that they are pretty cute and they can't exactly live in glass tanks. I'd like to know what to get for my tortoise. There's a lot of stuff you need from what I can tell. Like water conditioners and even cuttle stones? (I thought only birds needed those) I'd really like a big list of everything I need! Like stuff from what I need to buy for their enclosure to their diet. I'd also like to know a little bit about the laws in my state (Washington State) and about the laws in Idaho, I'll be moving there soon and I'm going to buy a tort once we move. I'm super excited to get a tort and I want to know everything I can about them! :tort::<3:
Hello and welcome.

Glass tanks are fine for starting babies and smaller tortoises. Everything else you rad from the source that told you that should be considered suspect or wrong. Glass tanks are too small for adult Russians.

If your tap water is safe for you to drink, its safe for a tortoise. No need for water conditioners. Did you get this from the same source as the glass tank info?

Buy your tortoise from a breeder that starts them correctly. I highly recommend @Carol S from first hand experience. Don't buy from a pet store or a re-seller website.
 

VJRDuran

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Joined
Apr 15, 2020
Messages
45
Location (City and/or State)
Brooklyn Park
I agree, buy from a breeder! We bought from @CarolS and she is fantastic! Thank you for starting to ask questions. That shows you are willing to do your research before committing to a pet that may outlive you. Do a lot of looking and reading and asking questions on this forum. Look at a lot of pictures to give you an idea of what a good enclosure should look like. In fact, I'll post a couple: The first is the inside of our Russian's enclosure. It is a 5.5 by 2.5 foot repurposed bookcase we bought at a thrift store and modified into a tortoise table. There is a sheet of coroplast underneath the substrate of coco coir and orchid bark. We turned one of the shelves into a wall for a "bedroom" of sorts that houses an artificial hide. We also have naturally dried wood carefully chosen from our woodpile and big rocks found around our property, properly scrubbed down and cleaned. We have a terracotta dish for water (more on that in a second) and repurposed pavers of different sizes for his basking area. There are artificial flowers and plants throughout. We use a damp towel draped over a support rod to help with humidity.

(Water seeps through the dish so we use the damp substrate underneath the dish to build up the humidity. We spread it around and then move dry substrate underneath the water dish.)

The second picture is of the front of the enclosure. My husband built the table this is resting on; in fact, the two are bolted together. He also built the lid frame. We used chicken wire we found stored in the shed's loft when we bought the property.

Underneath the table is space for a small fridge to store Scooter's food; and a shelf to store his bath supplies, his food prep supplies, and his toilet supplies. We also have a five-gallon bucket we fill with warm water a couple of times a month to wet down the substrate. We have a heating lamp, a T5 UVB bulb, and an outside spectrum LED bulb for extra light. (PLEASE NOTE: THE LIGHTING SET UP HAS CHANGED SINCE THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN). What you see here is a clamp system that is highly discouraged on this forum. Hanging lamps is much preferred.

Scooter eats dandelion leaves and flowers, radicchio, romaine, endive, turnip greens, clove, squash, carrots, arugula, hibiscus, Mazuri pellets, and more. We use some TNT and calcium powder. He eats off a 12 inch by 12 inch cement paver which helps grinds down his toenails and beak.

Remember, not only are Russians diggers but they are also climbers. Any place new is a place from which to escape. That is what is going on here as I convert an old flowerbed to an outdoor enclosure (to be finished next spring). I have been observing Scooter's behavior as I work on the flowerbed so I know what to build up to prevent, and what to build up to allow.


As for your list, it is hard to compile one for you, but some basics I would give you would be:
Carpentry tools
Repurposed bookcase at least five to six feet tall and as wide as you can get (recommended minimum is 4x8 or 36 square feet)
Substrate (the "ground" they walk on.
Moisture barriers such as coroplast.
Food area (a paver)
Water dish (terracotta is recommended)
Heat lights with proper lighting fixture
UVB bulb T5 with shade is recommended.
Lid (with screen if other pets or young children are present)
Bathing supplies (we use two dollar-store white dish tubs, old toothbrush, old dental syringe, and qtips.)
Food scale in g/kg/lb/oz to keep track of his weight.
Various decorations for inside the enclosure
Various veggie food (leafy greens and flowers https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/plant-database/#.X4og69BKiUl I use this link to see if something is safe for our tortoise.
Nutritional supplements
Pet scoop to clean up poo

And I'm sure there is more...
I'm gathering "Scooter-safe" seeds and plants for growing his food garden next spring and summer.
 

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Summer✨

New Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2020
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
Washington State
I agree, buy from a breeder! We bought from @CarolS and she is fantastic! Thank you for starting to ask questions. That shows you are willing to do your research before committing to a pet that may outlive you. Do a lot of looking and reading and asking questions on this forum. Look at a lot of pictures to give you an idea of what a good enclosure should look like. In fact, I'll post a couple: The first is the inside of our Russian's enclosure. It is a 5.5 by 2.5 foot repurposed bookcase we bought at a thrift store and modified into a tortoise table. There is a sheet of coroplast underneath the substrate of coco coir and orchid bark. We turned one of the shelves into a wall for a "bedroom" of sorts that houses an artificial hide. We also have naturally dried wood carefully chosen from our woodpile and big rocks found around our property, properly scrubbed down and cleaned. We have a terracotta dish for water (more on that in a second) and repurposed pavers of different sizes for his basking area. There are artificial flowers and plants throughout. We use a damp towel draped over a support rod to help with humidity.

(Water seeps through the dish so we use the damp substrate underneath the dish to build up the humidity. We spread it around and then move dry substrate underneath the water dish.)

The second picture is of the front of the enclosure. My husband built the table this is resting on; in fact, the two are bolted together. He also built the lid frame. We used chicken wire we found stored in the shed's loft when we bought the property.

Underneath the table is space for a small fridge to store Scooter's food; and a shelf to store his bath supplies, his food prep supplies, and his toilet supplies. We also have a five-gallon bucket we fill with warm water a couple of times a month to wet down the substrate. We have a heating lamp, a T5 UVB bulb, and an outside spectrum LED bulb for extra light. (PLEASE NOTE: THE LIGHTING SET UP HAS CHANGED SINCE THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN). What you see here is a clamp system that is highly discouraged on this forum. Hanging lamps is much preferred.

Scooter eats dandelion leaves and flowers, radicchio, romaine, endive, turnip greens, clove, squash, carrots, arugula, hibiscus, Mazuri pellets, and more. We use some TNT and calcium powder. He eats off a 12 inch by 12 inch cement paver which helps grinds down his toenails and beak.

Remember, not only are Russians diggers but they are also climbers. Any place new is a place from which to escape. That is what is going on here as I convert an old flowerbed to an outdoor enclosure (to be finished next spring). I have been observing Scooter's behavior as I work on the flowerbed so I know what to build up to prevent, and what to build up to allow.


As for your list, it is hard to compile one for you, but some basics I would give you would be:
Carpentry tools
Repurposed bookcase at least five to six feet tall and as wide as you can get (recommended minimum is 4x8 or 36 square feet)
Substrate (the "ground" they walk on.
Moisture barriers such as coroplast.
Food area (a paver)
Water dish (terracotta is recommended)
Heat lights with proper lighting fixture
UVB bulb T5 with shade is recommended.
Lid (with screen if other pets or young children are present)
Bathing supplies (we use two dollar-store white dish tubs, old toothbrush, old dental syringe, and qtips.)
Food scale in g/kg/lb/oz to keep track of his weight.
Various decorations for inside the enclosure
Various veggie food (leafy greens and flowers https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/plant-database/#.X4og69BKiUl I use this link to see if something is safe for our tortoise.
Nutritional supplements
Pet scoop to clean up poo

And I'm sure there is more...
I'm gathering "Scooter-safe" seeds and plants for growing his food garden next spring and summer.
Thank you so much! :<3:
Plus your tort is very cute
 

Blackdog1714

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2018
Messages
4,026
Location (City and/or State)
Richmond, VA
As you can see in the previous photos please remeber you are getting a tortoise that is part Monkey and will climb!!!! Wish you the best and I am a proud owner of a grumpy Russian from Carol S!
 
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