How Often Should I Feed My Russian Tortoise (Explained)

As a general rule, you should offer an amount of food equivalent to the size of your tortoise’s shell. They should be fed once a day, 5 days a week. The 2 starve days can be implemented at any time, in any order. This allows the slow-working digestive system to catch up, removing the tortoise’s need for a self starvation period in the summer.

how often should i feed my russian tortoise

How often should I feed my Russian tortoise

To Russian tortoises, tortoises not housed outdoors often overeat if given the chance, so food should be restricted. A good rule of thumb is to let them eat as much as they can daily for 30 minutes (adults can eat for an hour every other day). Calcium and multivitamin supplements should be given once a week. Cuttlebone can also be supplied for extra calcium (especially while growing), with the added benefit of keeping your tort’s beak trimmed. 

Restricting your tortoise’s diet to only five days a week can help them replace their regular self-starvation phase, which occurs during the last month of the summer. Russian tortoises in the wild would hibernate throughout the winter months (December to March) after progressively lowering their food intake for 2-4 weeks.

Before hibernation, their stomachs must be empty. Otherwise, the food would rot in their stomachs and intestines. You may change your tortoise’s eating schedule if you want to keep them from hibernating, whether it’s because they’re alone or because they’re not healthy enough. Feed them on a regular basis, either in reduced amounts or at set times, as some owners do.

One owner, for example, feeds their Russian tortoise as much as they can consume in 20 minutes every other day, and as much as they can consume in an hour every other day. Whatever technique you use to feed your tortoise, it’s critical that you stay within their nutritional requirements and keep track of their weight as you get to know their specific requirements.

What Do Tortoises Eat in the Wild?

For the most part, tortoises eat leaves, grasses, fungus, and vegetables. Many tortoise species are herbivorous, while others are omnivorous. That means they’ll eat some forms of animal stuff as well.

With that in mind, here are some of the most common items eaten by tortoises in the wild:

  • Fungi
  • Millipedes
  • Clover
  • Alfalfa grass
  • Sowthistle grass
  • Bermuda grass
  • Mulberry leaves
  • Hibiscus leaves
  • Aloe
  • Barley
  • Hay
  • Grains
  • Earthworms
  • Snails
  • Slugs
  • Carrion
  • Mushrooms
  • Melons
  • Apples
  • Pears  

These are some of the most common meals found by tortoises in the wild. The tortoise’s range is extensive, encompassing sections of North America, South America, Asia, Africa, and other regions of the planet. As a result, kids have access to a wide variety of meals from all around the world.

Read more: How Long Can Tortoises Go Without Food? Vacation Tips

What Should I Feed Russian Tortoise

Other tortoises, such as the Russian tortoise, are less finicky, but they do have certain unique requirements as compared to our lawnmower pals at the top of the list. Because a Russian tortoise’s diet consists of less grass, you shouldn’t rely on your garden to feed him. It just requires one to ten percent of its diet to be grass, so a little is OK. This type thrives on more greens, such as lettuce and other vegetables, which account for the majority of the tortoise’s diet.

The majority of the Russian tortoise’s food should be made up of dark leafy greens. Romaine lettuce, kale, and carrot tops are among the greens used. Fruit and vegetables should also be included in a Russian tortoise’s diet, but not more than 10% of the total.

Apples, bananas, and bell peppers are some fruits and vegetables to feed your Russian tortoise. Its diet should be supplemented with calcium, which is especially vital while they are young and growing. You can feed your Russian Tortoise five or six days a week, with one or two starvation days in between. Make sure that everything you choose is consistent.

There are a variety of good commercial tortoise diets that, when combined with the aforementioned items, can help to further alter the diet. Tortoise nutrition relies heavily on variety, so make every effort to provide as many different food items as possible.

Russian tortoises can be fed grasses and hay similar to those offered to horses and other livestock. The readiness with which these meals are eaten will vary per animal, but they should be supplied as a source of additional fiber regardless.

A good quality calcium/vitamin D3 supplement should be gently sprinkled on all meals. This is especially true for young animals and females who lay eggs. Calcium supplements should be provided often to growing tortoises, but less frequently to senior animals.

It’s also a good idea to give your reptile a multivitamin. Again, young tortoises will need to be supplemented more frequently than fully matured animals. The requirement for a multivitamin will be reduced, but not eliminated, if a diverse diet is provided.

Calcium and vitamin supplement formulas and dose recommendations differ from one manufacturer to the next. As a result, the manufacturer’s label should be carefully studied to avoid overdosing and underdosing.

Food To Avoid

After looking at the meals that your tortoise can consume, it’s time to look at the items that your tortoise should avoid. Plants that contain the nutrients listed below should be avoided since they obstruct your tortoise’s ability to absorb important nutrients. These include:

  • Oxalic acid: Minerals, particularly calcium, are bound by this nutrient. This, along with a lack of water, will result in kidney stones and, in the long run, renal failure. Rhubarb and beet greens should be avoided. While spinach is beneficial to your turtle, it should only be fed in little amounts.
  • Phytic acid: This nutrient is known to bind minerals as well as proteins. It is found in higher concentration in foods such as peas, beans, and cereals.
  • Tannins: This nutrient binds proteins and negatively affects digestion.
  • Purines: Purine is not hazardous in little doses, but it causes renal damage in Russian tortoises when consumed in big numbers.
  • Goitrogens: Your tortoise’s capacity to absorb iodine will be hampered by this vitamin. The Brassicae family of plants should be avoided if you want to avoid this nutrient.

The following is a list of foods to avoid for your tortoise’s diet:

  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Bok Choy
  • All grains such as bread, pasta
  • Dog and cat food
  • Meat
  • All human food except what’s been listed as “good”
  • Pellet type foods


It might be difficult to know what to feed your Russian tortoise. Not only that, but it might be a little complicated depending on where you live, what’s accessible locally, and what you can really buy.

Despite the fact that Russian tortoises are herbivores and can withstand high temperatures, they still require the proper nutrition to be healthy. You’ll feel lot more secure in the feeding procedure after you’ve gotten familiar with your tortoise’s requirements.

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