Do you have a Russian tortoise as a pet or plan on getting one? Then you should know that they thrive in outdoor enclosures, wanting to have natural food for grazing on and hiding in. That’s why it’s important to have the right plants for Russian tortoise enclosure to give them the environment they need for optimum health and happiness.
But what are the best plants for Russian tortoise enclosure and how can you plant it well? Read on as I show you all about planting for your tortoise’s home.
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Plants For Russian Tortoise Enclosure
Russian tortoises make popular pet tortoises, as they are one of the most popular and available species. They are also small, which is why many people choose the species, especially for those who live in small spaces. Furthermore, they are more active than other tortoises, being feisty and always eager to eat.
Because of their eagerness to eat, they would try eating any plants accessible in their enclosures, preferring weeds or wide-leafed plants. They wouldn’t eat grass unless they have no other choice. That’s why you need to make sure that what you place in their enclosure is healthy for them to graze on.
Besides eating their plants, they also love eating leafy greens and other vegetables such as kale, turnip greens, collard greens, and darker lettuces. These are the few plants that are safe and what you can consider placing in your Russian tortoise enclosure:
As mentioned, Russian tortoises won’t be grazing on grass as much, but it can help with other plant growth. Plus, some grasses are great for your tortoise’s environment.
I recommend that you plant mixes of Bermuda, fescue, and ryegrasses, which your tortoise can safely graze on if he chooses to. You can also opt for nontoxic ornamental grasses like pampas grass for their enjoyment. Tortoises can use such grasses as a hiding area, which is best if you have more tortoises in the enclosure.
Hibiscus flowers and leaves are beneficial for your tortoise with the nutritional content. There are two varieties of this plant:
- Tropical hibiscus plants can come in different colors, requiring deep protection and watering during hot afternoons.
- Blue hibiscus is known for its drought tolerance as long as the root system has been established in the soil.
Both of these bushes can grow up to 15 feet tall, shading the tortoises’ burrows.
You may want to consider rose bushes as well, which tortoises find tasty. Floribundas are also a great option, having fewer pruning requirements compared to tea roses and still growing flowers tortoises like.
One of the most popular trees to place in your tortoise enclosure is the mulberry tree. Tortoises LOVE its leaves and you can choose non-fruiting varieties so it doesn’t make any stains on your enclosure walls.
Another choice is elm trees, which are tasty for tortoises and safe. Plus, both trees can provide more shade and cooling air your pets will enjoy during a hot day.
One of the more popular flowers are dandelions, which are nutritious and have good taste that tortoises enjoy. There are also many other ornamental varieties of different flowers, which have edible flowers that your tortoise can safely consume. You can choose from Johnny hump-ups, nasturtiums, or violets.
Geraniums are also good for providing both shade and color, with its flowers and leaves safe for consumption. Ivy geraniums are also great for tortoises who want to hide or burrow in to stay away from the sun.
A tortoise’s main diet consists of vegetables, so have a whole salad mix for your Russian tortoise to have choices on what to consume.
Focus on dark leafy greens like romaine lettuce, kale, broccoli, and spinach. Besides this, grow herbs like arugula, basil, fennel, and rosemary, as they all have flowers for your tortoise to enjoy.
Other vegetables you can grow for your tortoise enclosure include members from the squash family, like pumpkin, cucumbers, and zucchinis. All these vegetables are nutritious choices for your tortoise, which you can also harvest for yourself!
Tips on Planting Your Tortoise Garden
Now that you know which plants are right for your tortoise enclosure, how can you build it? Here are some quick tips you can follow:
- Be sure to fence your enclosure about two feet high, which is tall enough to enclose the garden while keeping your tortoise inside. The footing should be a foot deep or more to prevent your tortoise from trying to burrow out, or from any insects and climbers.
- As for its size, Russian tortoises should have a garden enclosure of up to eight inches long, or 4×4 feet. The walls should be made of solid wood or cinder block without any space where the tortoise can see through outside, as they are more likely to plan their escape!
- Provide the right housing and burrow where the tortoise sleeps during the hot day. The location should receive afternoon shade, facing east or north to stay away from the sun during the day.
- Build the house with under block and use plywood for a roof, then cover the stricture with dirt, forming mounds. The mounded earth should be far enough from the enclosure walls so the tortoise won’t climb and try to escape!
Do you want to learn more about planting a tortoise garden? Check out this helpful video:
Wrapping It Up
When it comes to giving your Russian tortoise the best life and optimum health, they need to have an enclosure with a nice garden. You can purchase plants ready to be placed in the garden, or grow them yourself! Whatever you choose, just be sure to maintain the plants and entire enclosure with the right plants for your tortoise to eat and enjoy.
I hope that my article on the different plants for the Russian tortoise enclosure helped you out. Begin following these tips to create the proper enclosure your pet deserves now.