Russian Tortoise Food Guide | Helpful Tips

There is a lot of misinformation and confusion going around online about the correct food for a Russian tortoise. 

I am here to put your confusion and analysis paralysis to rest! 

The table below has the 3 best food products for the Russian tortoise, which also works well for any desert tortoises in general. 

I personally use all 3. I like to mix it up and provide my tortoise with a wide variety of food and nutrients but the first is his favorite! 

Russian Tortoise Food

The Russian Tortoise is a popular pet for many families, though understanding what it needs in terms of food is the only way that it can live a long and fruitful life. 

When it is cared for correctly it can outlive the owner. Life in captivity for this unique pet can be a good one if you know the proper care techniques. he Russian tortoise is a small species. The females tend to be larger than the males. Both the male and the female are similar in color.

Under their body is a bright yellow and brown color. They are brown and black in color and have light yellow patches between the scutes and the shell. If they are kept in a healthy environment to thrive, they can live up to 75 years. The Russian Tortoise is a natural grazer feasting on broad leaf plants.

Providing them with the varied diet they need to survive in captivity can be a real challenge for the owner. Sometimes owners prefer to keep this pet inside their home. It is best to keep them outside so they can be active year-round like they are in the wild.

Continue reading below to find out more about Russian Tortoise food.

Food List

The Russian Tortoise enjoys eating a variation of broad leaf plants. When they are kept as pets, they should be fed a diet of leaves and flowers. Commercial foods are not good for them because these types of food do not allow them good health. If they are deprived of vitamins and minerals from their diet, they can experience slow growth and illness. They should never be fed just any type of plant because some plants can be poisonous to them. The toxins can build up in their system and become fatal. Toxins known to be fatal to the Russian Tortoise are tannins, goitrogens, oxalic acid, purines and phytic acid. Foods that these toxins may be found in are fruits, dog and cat food, meat, iceberg lettuce, bread, pasta, bok choy, and pellet foods like the kind rabbits are fed. Foods that contain chemicals can build up in their systems overtime. They should be provided fresh water regularly.

In the wild, they are known to hibernate from October through to the middle of March. They are only active for a few months during the year. They like to hibernate when the climate becomes too cold. When they are native, the owner should fed them very large or massive amounts of their proper diet food so they can store up enough nutrients to last through the hibernation period. If you own a Russian Tortoise as a pet, then here is a proper diet food list that contains the foods they should be fed while in captivity:

* Dandelion
* Endive
* Romaine lettuce
* Mustard greens
* Radicchio
* Spring mix
* Chicory
* Turnip greens
* Collards greens
* Kale
* Finely chopped hay
* Rose flowers that are pesticide-free
* Mulberry leaves
* Hibiscus flowers
* Prickly pear flowers
* Fruit in moderation
* Plantain weed
* Cornflowers
* Mallow flowers
* Chrysanthemum flowers
* Californian poppy
* Chia
* Forsythia
* Day-flower
* Spinach only in moderation
* Mustard greens only in moderation
* Adequate fresh water supply
* Ice Plants
* Henbit
* Hosta
* Sedum
* Calcium supplement added to food lightly
* Probiotic supplement IFlora

cheat sheet 200 x




Grocery Stores

Many owners do not have time to go out and collect the foods from the wild, but some of the diet food these pet Russian Tortoise consume can be fond easy in the grocery store and some of these foods are endive, romaine lettuce, radicchio, mustard greens, spring mix, turnip greens, kale, collards and chicory. Other foods that can be purchased from the grocery store for your Russian tortoise are spinach, fruit, Probiotic supplement and calcium supplement.



If you own a pet Russian Tortoise, then you can save all the hassle from shopping in a traditional store and order online a few foods for their diet. These items can be shipped directly to your door at home saving you much valuable time. Some of these items can be on sale by online pet food store retailers saving you quite a bit of money too. Probiotic supplement and calcium supplement can be purchased at online health food stores. These Russian Tortoises can make a very rewarding pet for the families who care for them by providing them a healthy well balanced diet. Many consumers can make more informed and better purchase decisions by shopping online. Dried flowers and herbs can also be purchased online from health food stores or herbal supply stores. Dried dandelion is a perfect healthy snack for the Russian Tortoise Diet.

Pet Stores, Traditional or Online

Pet Russian Tortoises can be purchased at pet stores. You may check your local pet store to see if they have one for sale if you are planning to purchase one. If not, then you may find them for sale at online pet stores, but shipping one to you may be rather expensive depending on the distance of the pet store to your home. Pet stores that sell these pets also have a nice food supply for them that may include tortoise pellet diets, timothy hay, Bermuda grass, wheat-grass, and orchard grass. It is very important to read the labels closely checking for high quality ingredients. These pet food stores may also have a good supply of calcium supplement with added phosphorous. It is important to contact your veterinarian for your pet Russian Tortoise to get good advice on purchasing their healthy diet food.

Grow Food Yourself

grow food for your Russian Tortoise

If you like farming a little, then you can save some money by growing the Russian Tortoise food yourself so you can have a nice fresh supply of food on hand when you need to feed your pet. Farming may be a bit time consuming. Here are just a few great food items that you can grow yourself in your garden for your pet Russian Tortoise if you have extra time on your hands: Broad leafy greens, some fruit, dandelion flowers, roses, cornflowers, mallow flowers, and spinach.

Local Farmers Markets

what food and diet to feed russian tortoise

Local farmers markets carry a fresh supply of leafy greens that you may purchase for feeding your Pet Russian Tortoise. When visiting a farmers market you will find foods like kale, lettuce, spring mix, spinach, chicory, and fruit.


Knowing how to properly care for your pet Russian Tortoise and by feeding it a healthy well balanced diet of the required foods for nutrition will help it live longer than you. Plan a healthy diet combined with an active exercise plan for it and you will see that your pet is thriving. Your Russian Tortoise requires a high fiber diet rich in vitamins and minerals to keep it healthy and free from illness, ailments, and disease. Many of the Russian Tortoises can be easily captured in the wild. If you have captured one from the wild, then you should first take it to the Vet to be checked out. When you take your pet Russian Tortoise home, then you can provide it with a home of its own that may include an aquarium or a large rubber storage container. By adding sand and hay to it, you will make your pet feel more at home, like living in their natural habitat.

A Reptarium pen makes an excellent home for it. An outside pen is far more better for your pet Russian Tortoise. You can build your own pen. It should be kept in a dry environment. If they feel too hot, they will stop eating. You should never feed it rabbit pellets because they are known to make the Russian Tortoise dehydrate. In the wild, they can be found easily located near streams and lakes. They do not like high humid climate. When the humidity is high, they will dig a burrow.

There are many different species of plants that you should never feed the Russian Tortoise because they will be poisonous leading to death. These poisonous plants include wild cherry, black cherry, trumpet flower, sweet pea, nightshade, morning glory, lily of the valley, Jerusalem cherry, English ivy, golden-seal, foxglove, belladonna, China-berry, castor-bean, butterfly-weed, burning bush, spindle tree, bleeding heart, bane-berry, Amaryllis, boxwood, Azalea, and more. If you are thinking about feeding it a plant you have that you cannot identify, then you should seek expert advice from a herbalist to help you identify it. Do not choose plants for feeding it from the wild unless you can make positive identification to distinguish a healthy plant from a poisonous one. If you love your Russian Tortoise, always seek expert advice for plant identification.

A pet Russian Tortoise can bring much joy to the life of the owner and their family and friends if it is loved and properly cared for. If you believe that you may be interested in the aspect of breeding them, then it is extremely important to make sure that both the male and female tortoises are well fed and healthy.