The spunky horsefield tortoise, a popular choice as a pet, is one of the more colorful tortoises around and has a rich and interesting history.
You may not know this, but the horsefield was the first tortoise in space, taking orbit with a Russian mission in 1968. Endangered in its native Russia because of human expansion, the horsefield has proven a success on the pet market because of it size, personality, and resilience.
Horsefield Tortoise Care Sheet
If you are looking for a good, easy to care for pet, you couldn’t do much better than the horsefield tortoise. Caring for this little tortoise will really brighten up your daily existence.
Here’s what you need to know about these little cold-blooded critters:
The horsefield tortoise is, like most tortoises, a long-lived species surviving, if cared for properly, for over half a century.
The horsefield is also known as the Russian tortoise and the Central Asian tortoise. Regardless of what you call them, these little guys make great pets.
Despite their small size (typically only 10 inches at most), the horsefield needs a fair amount of territory to call his own.
Their home should be at least 9 feet long, 4 feet wide and 3 feet high. Although you can keep young horsefields in 20-gallon aquariums, this is not an ideal long-term space.
The best tortoise houses I’ve seen have actually been hand-made by the horsefield’s human companions. Be careful to abide by the height requirements specified, however, since the horsefield tortoise has acquired a reputation as being an outstanding climber.
You should carpet the floor of the horsefield’s home with sand or soil that most closely mimics the natural environment of its Russian home.
The horsefield is an avowed little tortoise miner, loving to dig itself little hiding places to while away dull afternoons.
To maximize its comfort you should also give it some shelter in which your tortoise can park and relax with a feeling of safety.
If you live in an area where the climate is conducive to keeping your tortoise outside during the summer months, you should do so. Just be sure to create another outside tortoise area for them in the yard.
Be sure to clear any grass or growths they may feed on and to give them both sunlit areas and shady areas so they can fully regulate themselves.
Don’t forget to place water out with your horsefields and enclose the area if you live in an environment where predators might swoop down and make an easy meal of these cute little tortoises.
You should also include a drinking bowl so your tortoise can quench its thirst or just lay about for a bit. Be careful, however.
Unlike other kinds of its hard-shelled cousins, the horsefield cannot swim, so don’t fill its dish too deep or you will make it into a death trap.
You will need a heat lamp and a basking lamp to regulate the temperature for your horsefield tortoise. You should have a “hot” area in your tortoise’s housing where your horsefield can sun bathe at about 90 degrees under a basking lamp, and another cooler area (about 75 degrees) where your horsefield can cool off.
At night, you should lower to temperature to even out at the lower temperature.
Horsefield tortoises eat mostly greens. Feed them clover and mustard greens, beets, broccoli, carrots, kale, and spinach.
Avoid giving them too much protein like what you get from tortoise mixes and pellets.
Be sure to clean your tortoises living area and change food and water daily to avoid exposing your tortoise to diseases and parasites.
Make sure you know your tortoise well-enough to detect changes in dietary habits, coloration, and activity as these are generally early indicators of sickness.
Seek out veterinary help at the first sign of trouble.