Russian Tortoise Fact Sheet

Common Name:

Russian Tortoise / Horsfield's Tortoise / Afghan Tortoise

Scientific Name:

Agrionemys horsfieldii

Wild Status:



Dry, arid regions, low humidity.


Russia, Afghanistkan, Pakistan, Kazakstan, Iran, China


Burrows underground

Life Span:

40 years


5-10 inches (females larger than males)

Cool Facts:

  • Tortoises have shells for protection so they can plow through bushes
  • Tortoises are not very good swimmers, unlike their cousins the turtles
  • Males tend to have longer tails, as well as longer claws.
  • The heavier or denser the tortoise the healthier
  • Russian tortoises are constantly stolen from the wild by humans who are trying to sell them
  • Can burrow for up to 9 months underground, only coming up to breed and eat.


The Russian Tortoise is a small gentle reptile that doesn't just come from Russia! They are small, fiesty, and eager to eat -  a bit more active than some other breeds of tortoise, which is why they are very popular as pets. They love to burrow and dig, so to help survive during some of the harsher seasons they go underground for long periods of time. Like us humans, they are diurnal, so they're active during the day and eager to play! The Russian Tortoise can go into it's shell to keep their head and limbs safe from predator attacks.  

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom: Animalia > Phylum: Chordata > Class: Reptilia > Order: Testudines > Suborder: Cryptodira > Family: Testudinidae > Genus: Testudo > Species: T. horsfieldii

Conservation & Helping:

Despite being popular pets, the russian tortoise is vulnerable on the endangered species list. In addition to the pet trade, the russian tortoise is used as a food source for local people and suffers from habitat destruction as threats to the species.

For Teachers and Educators


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