Russian Tortoise Hibernation Guide | Helpful Tips

Hibernation can seem like a confusing and tricky thing but when you have the right Russian tortoise enclosure housing setup it is easy and your Russian tortoise instinctively knows exactly what to do. 

Below are the 3 best tortoise tables. I have personally used all 3 and my favorite is the top listed one. 

One of the most important things to understand about a Russian Tortoise is that they need hibernation to retain body energy when their environment is not in sync with their needs. 

Out of all the tortoises out there, Russian Tortoises are one of the most popular choices among pet owners who are looking for one great companion. However, understanding their hibernation characteristics is incredibly important as an owner.

Continue reading to learn more!

Owning the Russian Tortoise as a Pet

Russian tortoise Facts and GenusThe Horesefield tortoise which is also called as the Russian tortoise, is actually a species which is often used as a pet. As they are relatively small in size, they are easily managed and can also easy to look after at home. Since it is resilient in nature, it can adapt easily to the harsh warm and cold environments.

The tortoise is actually a primary resident of the Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan and so, it is granted the proxy name of the Steppe or Afghan tortoise. Closely related to Mediterranean species, they are a hibernating tortoise as well. Due to the rocky and rough areas, they inhabit in the wild and also become a good climber and diggers. And they can be good pets too.


Hibernation is a natural nature’s mechanism to protect the cold-blooded creatures during cold weather and when food and water is scarce. Dormancy also seems to affect the reproductive cycles of the species, whether they are tropical or non-tropical and zoos also often provide a cooling period to stimulate breeding activity whenever temperatures normalize.

Russian tortoises can easily hibernate for a full period of eight months in an average year, and it also depends on the latitudinal location. For the Russian tortoises, you can easily find your tortoise hibernating the moment it doesn’t find the weather to its liking. Normally, these tortoises go for hibernation around December till March the next year. Before hibernation, it is important that the digestive tract of the tortoise is empty as food will rot during hibernation that can even lead to death. If you are unsure if the tortoise is healthy, it is a better idea to ensure that they do not hibernate as that can be fatal.

Types of Hibernations

While the Russian tortoises can hibernate for as many as nine months a year, it is seen that these tortoises generally hibernate for around 5 months a year and even as less as 8 weeks in captivity. If they are ill or affected by parasites, they might not even attempt hibernation. We generally see two different types of hibernations by the Russian Tortoise. Normally, we see animals hibernating inside somewhere. However, the same cannot be said of the Russian tortoises which can hibernate both outdoors and indoors. The two types of hibernation though differs to a lot of extent. Not all Russian tortoises can hibernate in both ways. Here is how both these types of hibernations differ.


When these tortoises have to hibernate outdoors, they have to be kept at stable temperature. One of the important considerations that these tortoises look for when hibernating outside is the temperature. If the temperature is warm and there is enough light, tortoises can even hibernate outside. The tortoises cannot withstand colder temperature and if it finds temperatures unsuitable, it tries to hibernate indoors. Most of the times, the tortoises can even dig burrows and hibernate underground, provided it has time to dig one before the cold weather kicks in.


When indoors, the tortoises normally love to be in warmer temperatures, and a temperature of around 68 to 70 degrees suits them well. Preferably, they will like an area indoors that has an overhead light with temperature between 90 to 100 degrees. This is because these tortoises need the UVB diet to properly intake the calcium in their diets. Those who have these tortoises as pet can keep them in an area indoors that has good lighting and stable temperature, including in a box.

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How do you keep Your Russian Tortoise healthy?

If you have a Russian Tortoise and are looking to ensure that it remains healthy, you will need to take care of the following.

Fresh Air

To get your Russian Tortoise fit and fine, you must provide them fresh and natural air. This is important for their body health. Remember the tortoise doesn’t often only need fresh air; they also need fresh water early in the daytime during the hottest weathers. This will give them a quite easy and relax environment and will definitely help them to grow fast. Fresh air also prevents them from disease and other issues and can provide a natural outlook for which they are actually habitat.

Consistent Temperature

Consistent temperature is another crucial point to keep your tortoise healthy. Hibernating species can tolerate a far temperature between 39-degree arsenite and 50 degrees Fahrenheit when they are artificially hibernated. A temperate re which is above 50-degree Fahrenheit can be the precipitate torpor, not exactly a true hibernation and your tortoise may also use up a precious fat reserve with its raised metabolism level. The animal then must be maintained and fed at a non-hibernating temperature.

The one best way to say that if your tortoise is not truly hibernating is only seen if it is active or not in the hibernation box or you can also find it has urinated, then immediately remove and hydrate him and then move to box to a cooler and in a perfect protected spot.

After Hibernation

Most tortoises hibernate during winter. However, the time period of hibernation as well as the type of hibernation can differ according to the type of tortoise.

The tortoises will hibernate if it is kept in the perfect conditions where it must be kept as same as the natural one. Always permit the smaller ones a shorter hibernation period. The adult ones can easily hibernate for easily three to five months. Do not give food to your tortoise food two to three weeks before hibernation and also maintain the correct temperatures.


The Russian Tortoise can be easily a good pet for you as these species have a great tolerance of severe heat and also of intense cold. You must have to remember and ensure that you have provided a perfect and a secure pen for them because these species are very agile and always try to escape. So you must insure its safety and ensure them hundred percent protections. These tortoises are also able to burrow underground tunnels several meters long, so you have to take preventive steps to get them at a place.

A heated environment for cooler days is what these tortoises love. In winters these species are susceptible to the pneumonia, but don’t worry, you can easily prevent them by proper heating arrangements. If you are looking to keep a tortoise-like the horrified, then you must have experience with some exotic pets. For the proper survival of a Horsefield tortoise, proper observation and care are needed. It is important for you that you must all the basic needs for your pet for it to stay healthy. Taking care of a Russian tortoise isn’t that difficult and is indeed fun, and you can play with your little mate when it doesn’t want to sleep!