Horsefield or Russian Tortoise (Agrionemys horsfieldii)

Emerald Isle Reptiles

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Product Overview

The Horsefields tortoise is a small species of tortoise ranging from males at 16cm to the females at 20cm. With the proper care and husbandry your tortoise could live up to 60+ years.


 The Horsefield tortoise is native to the central Asia area and includes the Russian Steppes, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, India, Iran, and some parts of China.


The Horsefield tortoise is a terrestrial species that lives in desert terrain or on the dry slopes of mountainous regions. Their native habitat has an extreme climate where weather conditions range from extreme heat in summer to severe cold in winter. The Horsefield tortoise is normally only active for a few months of the year and they will typically brumate over the cold winter (the reptile equivalent of hibernation). During the hot summer months they will normally bury below the surface of the ground in to avoid dehydration and exposure to the sun’s powerful rays (Aestivation).


If using an indoor enclosure a tortoise table is a good choice. Tortoises are an active species, so the more room you can allow them the better. If using an outdoor enclosure it should be large enough to provide your tortoise with a variety of shade, shelter, edible plants and a sunny spot. The enclosure should be secure to prevent your tortoise from escaping.


Horsefield Tortoises like to burrow so providing them a substrate that allows them to burrow will be very much appreciated. A mix of top soil and play sand is ideal and should be at least 10cm deep - this type of substrate is commercially available from most reptile retail outlets. Newspaper or shredded paper can be used as a cheap option but obviously does not allow for the tortoise to dig.


Like all tortoises the horsefiled will need fresh, clean water daily and this should be provided in a shallow water bow. It is important to change the water frequently because tortoises usually urinate at the same time as drinking. Changing the water daily will avoid the build up of bacteria and also prevent the tortoise from drinking it's own waste materials next time it is thirsty. Soaking your tortoise in a shallow bath weekly will also ensure it does not become dehydrated.

Heat and Light:

The Horsefield tortoise requires overhead heat and full spectrum UVA/UVB lighting. They require a daytime basking temperature of approximately 84-90°F, with an ambient temperature of approximately 68°F. You should allow the heat and light to be on for around 12 hours a day. Providing the correct lighting (UVA/UVB) will ensure that your tortoise stays healthy as they require UVB lighting to help their bodies absorb vitamin D3. When choosing appropriate equipment for your Horsefield tortoise enclosure, you must decide whether you are going to provide heat and UVB lighting in one unit or if you are going to run separate items for providing the required heat and light. The basking light will enable the tortoise to bask under a hot heat source during the daytime. 

Allowing your Horsefield tortoise exposure to periodic natural sunlight will be a good benefit so an outside enclosure used for grazing in the garden on summer days is essential. 


The bulk of your Horsefield tortoises diet should be made up of non toxic weeds and flowers, with the rest being leafy vegetables and the occasional complete pellets available from reptile specialists. If collecting your flowers and weeds from the wild it is important to ensure that they come from chemical/fertilizer-free sources or you could always grow your own tortoise food. If you are buying vegetables from the supermarket it is recommended that they are organic and as fresh as possible. Frozen mixed vegetables can be offered to your tortoise (ensure they are completely thawed before they are used) - dandelions, dry hay, grasses, bramble, chick weed, nasturtium, mustard, sunflower, mint, clover, water cress, turnip, carrot, cabbage, barley, apple, broad beans, rose petals and sow thistles are all suitable for your tortoise.

Calcium is a very important part of your Horsefield tortoise’s diet and is essential for healthy shell development and the creation of vitamin D3, so it is advisable to dust your tortoises food with a good calcium supplement daily.


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