Horsefield Tortoise


Horsefield tortoises come from Central Asia and around mountain areas on the edge of Russia. In the wild they bask in the sun hot temperatures with high UVB. They require both Heat and UVB in captivity which takes the form of a basking lamp and UVB tube, or a dual Heat & UVB bulb along with a Calcium +D3 supplement powder

Horsefield tortoises require a diet of dark leafy greens with the occasional tomato treat once every week or so. It is important that they are not fed watery veg like cucumber, peppers and tomato’s often as they disrupt the bowels and cause watery stool as well as not providing the essential vitamins your tortoise needs

You may enjoy taking your tortoise out during the peak summer heat, we recommend minimising this time to 15-30 minutes so that your tortoise doesn’t get cold. Be ware of wild plants which may be poisonous to your pet


There are a few different types of tortoise enclosure available which are based around a table or a vivarium style. Depending on the size of your tortoise when you buy it , or if you care for mammals in your home you may wish to choose a vivarium set up to ensure that the small tortoise received the heat it needs, or to keep pets from disturbing the tortoise.

Table options are nice as they allow you to interact with the tortoise but you should ensure to measure your temperatures regularly and when weather changes affecting the ambient temperature in order for the tortoise to get all the heat it needs. Horsefield tortoises also need UVB which can be in the form of a tube for vivarium set ups or a dual D3/heat bulb for table set ups. Thermostats should be used with heat bulbs but cannot be used for dual mercury vapour bulbs.

There are a range of substrates available for your tortoise which are an option of absorbent lignocel and aspen beddings or there is a choice of tortoise life bio substrate which is highly absorbent and completely natural.  Provide fairly shallow water and food bowls to allow your tortoise to access the contents. Provide a hiding space for your tortoise and plenty of substrate for it to dig and bury at night. Heat mats may be needed in winter as an addition to your tortoise table to provide extra belly heat or a larger heat lamp or rock can be provided in a vivarium set up.  Put some wood and décor in the enclosure so that your tortoise can climb on different textures as it would in the wild.

Spot clean your tortoise daily and clean every 3-4 weeks fully, replacing substrate. Clean water and food bowls daily and provide fresh water. Soak your tortoise in warm water 2-3 times a week as they absorb water through the cloaca. Lots of tortoises choose to go to the toilet in the water, if you notice your tortoise is not going to the toilet then a warm soak for 10 mins can help to relieve this.


Tortoises are independent animals who although do well in captivity are not the kind of pet that enjoys a cuddle. Horsefield Tortoises like to be on the ground or a surface so that they can walk around at will and do not enjoy held in one place.

Try to collect your tortoise from beneath, never pull its legs or put your hands close to its mouth. Tortoises have a hard beak so their bite can be painful, tortoises pull their legs in to protect themselves so be careful not to put fingers under their shell where they can be trapped. 

Tortoises should be kept level and not tipped or rolled over for long periods of time as this can upset the chemicals in their brains.


Genus, Species Testudo horsefieldii
Adult Size 6-10 inches
Habitat Desert, Dry Slopes
Lifespan 50-75 (+) years
Diet Dark leafy greens dusted with Calcium + D3 powder daily
Ambient Temp (f) 75-80
Basking Temp (f) 90-95
Humidity (%) 60-70
Locality Central Asia, Russia Difficulty 3
Breeding Age Females 10, Males 7
Social Structure Live alone or with opposite sex, groups of females


∗ Tortoise-life substrate or bio-life mix
∗ Water and food bowls
Hides or décor
∗ A thermometer
∗ A hygrometer
UVB lighting
∗ A reptile safe disinfectant for cleaning
∗ Cuttlefish or tortoise block for extra vitamins and to help keep the beak filed down
Calcium for dusting food


Sexing tortoises is different depending on species. Tortoises can be very hard to sex when small, but once a tortoise is large enough to start to develop more distinctive characteristics there are a couple of noticeable differences.

Male horsefield tortoises have a much longer tail than a female and generally their tail will hang to one side, a female horsefield has a smaller chunkier tail which usually sticks out straight.

As adults, horsefield tortoises can be easy to sex as females grow much larger than males by around 3-4 inches. Where a male tortoise will reach around 5-6 inches, a female will reach more like 10 inches


Eyes– Eyes should be clear and open wide. Look out for any swollen eye lids or swelling around the eye as this can signify an eye infection which are common in tortoises. Turtle eyes is a great product to treat the eyes with and requires a couple of drops daily to clear the infection. You can also use saline and a cotton pad to gently swab the eyes daily. Separate tortoises which show signs of infection to avoid spreading.

Shell– The shell should be smooth with no chips or signs of pyramiding. Scutes which raise and point at the top are referred to as pyramiding in tortoises and are a sign of MBD (metabolic bone disease) which means that the tortoise has not received enough UVB and calcium + D3. it is important to change your UVB bulb every 6-8 months and dust food with calcium +D3 powder twice a week. The UVB and D3 work in hand to keep your tortoises shell and bones strong.

Stool– your tortoises stool should be firm and moist. Watery stools are caused by feeding your tortoise too many high water content fruits or vegetables. Encourage leafy greens like Kale, Spring Greens and Cabbage instead of things like lettuce, cucumber and tomato.

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