The Russian tortoise (Agrionemys horsfieldii), also commonly known as Horsfield's tortoise, Afghan tortoise or the Central Asian tortoise, is a threatened species of tortoise. Human activities in its native habitat contribute to its threatened status.


The Russian tortoise is a small tortoise species, with a size range of 13–25 cm (5–10 in). Females grow slightly larger (15–25 cm [6–10 in]) to accommodate more eggs. Males average 13–20 cm (5–8 in).

Russian tortoises are sexually dimorphic. Males tend to have longer tails generally tucked to the side, and longer claws; females have a short, fat tail, with shorter claws than the males. The male has a slit-shaped vent (cloaca) near the tip of its tail; the female has an asterisk-shaped vent (cloaca). Russian tortoises have four toes. Coloration varies, but the shell is usually a ruddy brown or black, fading to yellow between the scutes, and the body is straw-yellow and brown depending on the subspecies.

The male Russian tortoise courts a female through head bobbing, circling, and biting her forelegs. When she submits, he mounts her from behind, making high-pitched squeaking noises during mating.

In captivity

In captivity, diet typically consists of lamb's lettuce, plantains and geraniums. The diet should be varied and may include juvenile dandelions and different species of lettuce, though like very many plants, they should be fed rarely due to potentially harmful side effects (for the former) or a lack of nutritional value (for the latter).[citation needed] An online website, The Tortoise Table, is an excellent resource to access a list of edible plants for the species. Water is important for all species, but the tortoise, being an arid species, will typically get water from their food, but they still need a constant supply. Tortoises should be soaked in warm water up to the mid shell. Tortoises typically empty their bowels in water as to hide their scent, this is an instinct, and it also helps keep their enclosure cleaner.

Russian tortoises do not require a CITES Article X certificate.