Russian tortoises are one of the more popular reptiles to own as pets because they thrive in extreme temperatures. But many owners of this species have a difficult time finding or creating a tortoise enclosure that would satisfy both pockets and of course, the tortoise. Given their natural ability to adapt to a multitude of environments, creative freedom is possible when designing and developing a habitable space for these shelled yet gentle creatures, which could make for a fun project to undertake for you and the family. Needless to say, Russian tortoises—or any animal for that matter—are not play dough to simply squeeze and fit into a mold. There are still standards and logical accommodations to adhere to for your friend to remain happy and healthy.
Tortoise Enclosure Size
If you keep any living, breathing creature inside a small enclosure, cage or aquarium, that said creature will likely become stressed or even deranged. Tight spaces are suffocating, and that is a matter of fact for your pet Russian Tortoise as well. With detrimental ramifications like unhappiness and health issues in mind, it is time to build a tortoise enclosure big enough that’ll foster over wellness for your Russian Tortoise.
Logically, the size of a tortoise enclosure should bear in mind the size of the tortoise itself. And because these common household reptiles can grow as big as 8-9 inches, the tortoise enclosure should be at least 10 times as long, 5 times as wide and 3 times as high as the tortoise you are building for (40-50 gallon). If you have a baby Russian tortoise hatchling, it is ok to start it off with something smaller like a plastic tub. However, you must increase the size of its habitat as the tortoise increases in size.
Tortoise Enclosure Substrate
After you’ve determined and built the appropriate-sized Russian tortoise enclosure, it is then time to implement a suitable substrate. A tortoise enclosure’s substrate can utilize a variety of materials as long as is it not finer-grained sand, which can cause constant slipping, making it difficult for the little guy to travel freely within his own home. A mixture of garden soil & coconut fiber is of the most popular combinations used, but it should be laid out deep enough so that your tortoise can burrow into it. Yes, Russian tortoises tend to burrow when the environment around them is causing them to stress and dry out. This particular substrate fosters slight humidity which is enough to protect them and their shell from drying. Needless to say, it is important to keep any substrate you use for your tortoise enclosure, moist.
Tortoise Enclosure Lighting
Because they thrive under the beating sun, Russian Tortoises require a lot of supplemental light for your tortoise to absorb calcium when in captivity. That being said, an effectively bright light source is imperative to construct the best, fully functional tortoise enclosure. At Allan’s Pet Center, we have the lights you need to provide your tortoise a sunny paradise. From halogen heat bulbs to nano-ceramic bulbs, we’ll have it in-store. However, we recommend implementing some kind of UVB light because it best helps reptiles, in this case, Russian tortoises to synthesize vitamin D3, making it the most preferable option for your pet.
Designing and building the best tortoise enclosure warrants much more than finding the right size, substrate, and lighting. There are far more complexities to consider like hiding areas and so forth. As mentioned prior, creating tunnels within the substrate should be seriously considered as they serve as means of shade and reclusive hiding when distressing factors like heat and noise become too unbearable. If not a tunnel, a log or hide box could be suitable alternatives, albeit less effective options. In regards to your tortoise’s water source, a shallow water dish will be more than enough for your shelled friend.
The dish should be deep enough for the Russian tortoise to soak its body in, but not too deep as it can fall in and drown. Do also consider implementing a heating pad and or thermometer if you live in an area with consistently cold or even cool temperatures, because like all reptiles, maintaining the correct temperature range is necessary for it to survive and thrive.