Creating the proper habitat for your Russian tortoise is key to helping it live a healthy and happy life. Just like with their food and bedding, a Russian tortoise requires a specialized enclosure.
Of course, with so many different tortoise enclosures on the market, it can seem next to impossible to find the right one for your little Russian tortoise's needs.
Continue reading to find out more about the best Russian tortoise enclosures on the market today.
The Top 3 Russian Tortoise Enclosures
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MY #1 PICK: Penn-Plax Reptology Tortoise Palace
The Penn-Plax Reptology Tortoise Palace is the perfect place for Russian tortoises to thrive.
With a wire top, a glass terrarium, a black frame, and a handy lamp mount, it's one of the best indoor enclosures around.
The beauty of this unique indoor enclosure is that it seems to blend in seamlessly with modern decor, perfect for those who want to give their tortoise a place to live and thrive without sacrificing the aesthetic of their home.
Of course, style isn't the only thing to love about this tortoise enclosure.
There is a unique windowsill component on the front glass display of the enclosure, which signals to your tortoise that there is an object in front of them. This way, they won't bump into the glass or hurt themselves while moving around.
When the day is done, your tortoise can move into the small sleeping compartment, which blocks out the light and acts as a bit of a hideaway when they need their privacy.
Some enclosures can make it quite difficult for their owners to adjust heat settings. With the adjustable mount on the back of the enclosure, regulating temperature has never been easier.
While it is possible to keep the Penn-Plax palace on the floor, you can purchase the palace stand to go along with it. The stand sits at 42" high and 48" wide. It acts as a sleek, modern table to place the palace atop. With built-in storage, you can keep your pet's area nice and clean while having their food and other belonging in the same area.
Overall, if you want your Russian Tortoise's enclosure to be both functional and high-quality, the Penn-Plax Palace is a wonderful choice.
#2 Best Outside Temporary Play: Zoo Med Tortoise Play Pen
The Zoo Med Tortoise Play Pen is an excellent outdoor enclosure for those who want to give their baby tortoise access to natural UVB light.
Having natural UVB light is very important for captive-bred Russian tortoises, as it helps their shells to grow and keep them from dealing with certain health issues.
The playpen is very easy to assemble and can be placed on a lawn, where your tortoise can eat grass and bask in the rays of the sun.
After a good helping of food, your tortoise can wander inside the private sleeping area and take a nap.
Not only does this playpen provide a safe and healthy place for your tortoise to enjoy natural, leafy greens and garden soil, but it also looks great with its natural wood construction and stylish triangular design.
First-time reptile owners might see the prices of some of these indoor or outdoor enclosures and run for the hills.
If you're on a budget and looking for a high-quality tortoise enclosure, we recommend the Aivituvin Wooden Tortoise House.
The bottom of the Aivituvin tortoise enclosure is completely surrounded, keeping it free from dirt.
Uniquely enough, this is one of the only enclosures on the market to use 100% solid wood.
Many enclosures use cheap plywood that ends up rotting after a period of time due to waste and moist soil.
The box comes with acrylic viewing stations on both sides so that you can see into the tortoise enclosure and they can see back out at you. Right beside the viewing area is a hide box or private sleeping area. The hide box is the perfect place for your tortoise to go if they need a bit of privacy. Plus, this area is completely weatherproof, perfect for keeping your beloved Russian tortoise feeling safe at all times.
Of course, when they're ready to go out into the viewing area, they can enjoy the warmth of UV lamps.
How To Build A Russian Tortoise Housing Enclosure
To build the perfect Russian Tortoise habitat, you need to first think of the climate that you live in. The Russian tortoise can live out for most of the year in warmer climates, though if you live in a cold climate, you must keep your tortoise indoors when it is cool or cold.
If you decide to build an indoor enclosure, you will likely build it with glass or plastic. If you decide to go with glass, make sure to use tape or paint around the bottom part of the enclosure so that they don't run into it.
Outdoor enclosures may be used if daytime and nighttime temperatures stay above 40-degrees Fahrenheit at all times.
For both kinds of enclosures, you must consider the size of your Russian tortoise. As a rule of thumb, your enclosure should be ten times the length and three times the height of your tortoise. Typically, a 50-gallon clear plastic storage container or terrarium should do the job.
Of course, as your tortoise grows, you may need to continuously make updates.
It is also important to add hide boxes as well. Having a place where your tortoise can escape out of the heat to lower their body temperature is crucial.
Russian tortoise substrate can be a combination of garden soil, sand, coconut fiber, or peat moss. These tortoises, like many others, love burrowing, which is why you need to make sure that your substrate is deep enough to burrow into.
It is important that you avoid using dusty substrates, though you should always make sure that the substrate is dry. While it may work for other species, wet and moist substrate can cause health problems for Russian tortoises like shell rot or respiratory infections.
Our #1 Choice: Zilla Ground English Walnut Shells Desert Blend
There are so many different kinds of substrate out there that finding the right one can feel difficult.
Luckily, there are companies out there like Zilla, which make it easy to find just what you are looking for.
Zilla Ground English Walnut Shells Desert Blend is a popular pet tortoise substrate that creates an attractive and natural habitat for Russian tortoises to live happily.
With its dry characteristic and unique blend, this substrate acts as a heat conductor and encourages burrowing behavior.
Temperature & Lighting
The warmest spot in your Russian Tortoise enclosure should be the basking area. Typically, you will want to keep this area anywhere between 90 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. At the opposite end of the cage should be temperatures that sit around the low 70s, though you should try and make sure the temperature evens itself out from hot to cold in a natural gradient rather than creating hot and cold spots.
During the night, you want temperatures in your tortoise enclosure to be in the low 60s. You can use a standard thermometer to regulate and monitor these temperatures.
Using under tank heaters or ceramic emitters as primary heat sources help maintain ambient enclosure temperatures. Infrared bulbs and incandescent heat lamps can then be used as secondary heat sources for basking areas. Of course, the elements that you use depend on the natural temperatures in your home and the size/type of tortoise enclosure.
Russian tortoises need 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark. It is important that you provide your Russian tortoise with UVB lighting for at least 12 to 14 hours, though the actual time is season-dependent.
Having access to UVB helps tortoises develop their shells and intake Vitamin D. Owners may opt for using red bulbs at night when their regular lighting is turned off, though it isn't mandatory.
For more information, see our Russian tortoise temperature and lighting page.
Our #1 Choice For Best UV Light: MegaRay Mercury Vapor UVB Bulb Lamp
A UVB light is one of the best choices out there when it comes to creating reptile enclosures, as it provides natural warmth and heat at the click of a button.
One of our favorite options on the market today is the MegaRay Mercury Vapor Bulb.
The MegaRay Mercury Vapor Bulb is the perfect UVB bulb to ensure proper appetite while helping your tortoise absorb calcium with Vitamin D production.
This bulb comes in four different wattage options ranging from 70W to 275W and comes with a translucent magnesium oxide inner coating.
Owners can choose how intense they need their lamp to be based on the distance that it is set at.
Plus, it works with a standard lamp base, so there is no need to purchase any special equipment to rig it up.
As one of the best heat lamps for Russian tortoises on the market today, we couldn't go without mentioning the Zilla Premium Reflector.
With reflective white on the inside and a powder-coated black on the inside, this unique light is made to last long.
With the ceramic socket on the back, high heat is no match.
With its large 8.5" design, it works well with a wide variety of fluorescent, incandescent, and heat-emitting bulbs.
If you don't have the convenience of having an outlet directly next to your enclosure, you'll enjoy the six-foot power cord with the in-line on/off switch.
To give buyers peace of mind, the Zilla Premium heat lamp comes with a one-year warranty.
Russian tortoises food requires a proper diet that is full of fiber and low in protein. There are plenty of food options out there for these beautiful little creatures, many of which contain succulent and herbaceous vegetation.
The Russian tortoise diet often consists of twigs, grass, and flowers. For an added source of fiber, it is a good idea to keep grass has, such as brome, orchard grass, or timothy, around the enclosure.
Leafy greens are a great addition to their diet as well, though you must vary the types of greens you give to them to optimize nutrition. Stick with things like collard greens, kale, spinach, and dandelion greens. You should avoid iceberg lettuce if you can, as it doesn't provide a whole lot of nutritional value.
You also want to make sure that your Tortoise always has access to freshwater in a shallow water dish. Having a shallow water dish allows them to drink with ease and reduces the risk of potential drowning. Treating your water with a conditioner to make sure it is free from harmful tap chemicals is important too.
Our #1 Choice: Zoo Med Natural Tortoise Food, 35-Ounce, Grassland
Zoo Med Grassland Tortoise food is a wonderful choice for Russian tortoises, as it comes with many of the same stem grasses that are found in the wild.
This formula of long-stem fibers is incredibly nutritional and contains fiber that you will not find in any other type of commercial food.
Some of the other natural ingredients found in Zoo Med Natural Tortoise Food include Yucca and Dandelion Greens.
Your tortoise will benefit from the added vitamins and minerals, all of which come without added preservatives or artificial coloring.
How big should a Russian tortoise enclosure be?
An indoor Russian tortoise enclosure should be at least 36" x 12". Outdoor Russian tortoise enclosures, on the other hand, must be around 48" x 48" long and have a screened cover to allow in light while providing protection.
Russian tortoises are incredible climbers, meaning you need to make sure that your enclosure is high enough that they cannot get out. As a good rule of thumb, you want your enclosure to be at least three times the height of your tortoise.
If you choose to place your enclosure outdoors, you also want to make sure that you bury it at least 12" into the ground. Beyond their surprisingly excellent climbing abilities, it should come as no surprise that Russian tortoises are great diggers.
What is the best enclosure for a Russian tortoise?
An indoor tortoise enclosure can either come in the form of a plastic tub, a wooden terrarium, or a glass tank. Glass enclosures are very popular, as they provide ample viewing. However, owners must make sure that the glass is noticeable from the tortoise's point of view so that they don't run into it and hurt themselves.
Outdoor enclosures should use durable wood that is not prone to rot or moisture. You might find cheap plywood in some low-grade enclosures, which won't last very long. Looking for solid wood enclosures to build your Russian tortoise house is ideal.
What kind of habitat does a Russian tortoise need?
Because Russian tortoises are native to dry and arid regions, it is important that owners keep the elements of those regions in mind when creating their pet's habitat.
Humidity should stay very low, temperatures should sit anywhere between the low 60s and high 90s for nighttime and daytime respectively, and there should be plenty of high-quality, desert-friendly substrate for them to burrow in when they please.
Can you keep a Russian tortoise outside in the winter?
If you live in a mild or Mediterranean climate, then your tortoise should be able to stay outside throughout the winter. However, you must be careful to watch temperatures and make sure they don't go below the 40s.
If you live in a cold climate, it is best to bring your tortoise indoors for the winter. As with many other animals and different tortoise species, Russian tortoises go into hibernation and brumation during the winter. During this time, they may even continue growing.
Final Thoughts - Obtaining The Perfect Enclosure For Your Russian Tortoise
The Russian tortoise makes a great pet. In fact, Russian tortoises tend to be one of the most popular choices for people who have never owned reptiles before. While they might be easy to take care of, it is important that owners follow specific guidelines to optimize their pet's quality of life.
Having a place where your baby Russian tortoises can grow and thrive is important if you want them to live a happy and healthy life. Understand the right kinds of pet supplies to buy can help them avoid nasty health issues, such as metabolic bone disease.
Follow this guide above to keep your Horsfield's tortoise healthy and strong.