Greek VS Russian Tortoise

If you’ve been trying to decide between a Russian Tortoise and a Greek Tortoise, then you’ve come to the right place. 

Its is amazing how these reptiles have survived on the changing environmental conditions and evolved to a much better-adapted species over the past years. Located on virtually every continent, these animals have been a center of attraction for many, attracting numerous scientific researches.

In our current generation, it’s not a rare case to visit someone and find a tortoise as a pet. Yes, these mysterious animals that have roamed in the wild for millions of years are finding their way into our homesteads. Maybe it’s their gentle non-aggressive nature that has captured the attention of many, or maybe it’s their merely unbelievable capability to adapt to new environment. These facts may be uncertain. But it’s certain enough that they will be around for numerous years to come.

In this case, the Greek and the Russian tortoise shall be carefully examined in various aspects and their differences and similarities presented in a table format below:

Ultimate Comparison Table

Greek TortoiseRussian Tortoise
Common Names:Spur-thing tortoise, Moorish Tortoise, Common TortoiseHorsfields’ tortoise, Central Asian tortoise, Steppe tortoise, Afghanistan tortoise, Four toed tortoise
Scientific Name:Testudo graecaTestudo horsfieldi
SpeciesT. graecaA. horsfieldii
OriginNorthern Africa, East Europe, Middle east and Southern SpainAfghanistan, Caspian sea Kazakhstan, China, Pakistan and Iran
HistoryOver the past decades, this species of tortoise has been imported in various countries. Due to their capability to adapt quickly to new niches, these tortoises are now common in numerous countries.The Russian Tortoises were originally found in the central Asian countries. Despite the harsh climate (hot dry summer and the extremely cold winter), these species have survived for millions of years and are slowly finding their way into new niches.
SizeAn adult Greek tortoise is approximately 6-7 inches long, with hatchlings approximately 1-1/2 inches long.Female Russian tortoise are relatively larger compared to the males so as they can have more room to accommodate more eggs. Adult male Russian Tortoise has an average size of 5-8 inches long while a female adults range from 6-10 inches long. On the other hand, a hatchling is approximately 1 inch long.
AgeWith proper care, a Greek tortoise has a lifespan of more than 50 yearsA Russian tortoise can live up to more than 40 years under proper care and with a conducive environment.
Popularity This species of tortoise is cheap to maintain and hence its popularity.This species is popular due to its rugged lifestyle and its small size.
Information AvailableThere is a lot of information available about the Greek tortoise. This information can be found on (books, websites, forums). Here are some of the website and forums with informative information on Greek tortoises:
Similarly, informative information on the Russian tortoise can be found on the following websites and forums
Personality & CharacteristicsThey are generally active during the day, less aggressive to each other (unless during mating). They are good borrowers and climbers. Mostly comfortable at their environment.Only different from the greek tortoise in; Russian tortoise becomes relatively shy in new environments.
DietGreek tortoise should be fed with a mix of vegetables and grass. Fruits should only make 10% of their diet. Also, a shallow dish with water should always be available to ensure the tortoise stay hydrated.Same as the greek tortoise with the only difference being that you can also feed the Russian tortoise with hay, carrots, squash and bell peppers.
Housing During the warm season of the year, this tortoise should be built spacious enclosures on the open. There should be plenty of vegetation to feed on. Due to their curious nature, the enclosure should be dig proof as they can borrow down and escape. Also, the height of the walls should average between 6-12 inches tall. Housing greek tortoise in glass tanks in the open should be avoided at all cost as this will generate a lot of heat and kill the animal.

Under indoors housing, large plastic is preferred or 40 gallons of the terrarium.
Same as the greek tortoise.
Temperature & LightingWhen housed indoors a greek tortoise requires approximately 12-14 hours of UVB light. This light can be provided by mercury vapor bulbs and is essential since it helps in providing vitamin D3 necessary for the healthy growth of the tortoise.

A temperature of around 95 degrees should be maintained in the basking areas and at night the temperatures can fall to approximately 65-75 degrees.
Have similar requirements as the greek tortoise. The only difference is that a room temperature of 80 degrees should be maintained in the lows and 95-100 degrees in the basking area.
Bed & SubstrateA mix of top soil and play sand, cypress mulch, and aspen shaving are the most appropriate to use. Pine and cedar bedding should be avoided as they are toxic to the tortoise.Due to their borrowing nature, the russin tortoise should be provided with a fairly deep layer of beddings. The most appropriate bedding would be: shredded aspen, clean soil, reptile bark, and cypress mulch
HibernationThe greek tortoise hibernates during the cold seasons.They hibernate during winter and the cold season.
Breeding After hibernation the female tortoise becomes receptive. The male makes advances on the female by ramming their shells. One mating is enough for the female to lay many eggs. Females become aggressive few days before laying their eggs. They borrow on a place they find appropriate and cover their eggs with sand.Mating occurs after hibernation where the male makes advances on the female by: robbing its head, circling the female and in most cases biting the front legs of the female. The female is at first uninterested but they finally mate. Single matting is enough to fertilize 30 eggs. The female can delay her gestation period. When the time comes she finds and appropriate place to borrow and lay her eggs.
HumidityThe humidity level should not fall below 50%The Humidity should satay around 60% in their housing.

For both types of tortoises, if the correct humidity can not be achieved with outdoor housing then you must have indoor housing to maintain the correct percentage of humidity.

If this is not done, health issues can arise including shell rot.

cheat sheet 200 x





As seen the greek and the Russian tortoise have numerous similarities. But it is the slight differences the that make each species unique from the other.