best russian tortoise habitat

It is essential to provide the Russian Tortoise with the most suitable habitat to ensure they stay happy and healthy. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to make the best Russian Tortoise habitat.

The Best Habitat for a Russian Tortoise

Whether its indoors or outdoors, the best habitat for a Russian Tortoise must have the right size, substrate, temperature, water sources, and plants.

Making The Best Indoor Habitat For Russian Tortoise

The biggest difference between an indoor and outdoor enclosure for a Russian Tortoise is size. Also, indoor habitats will need a basking light.


The general rule for housing the Russian Tortoise is – the bigger, the better.

Russian tortoises are very active and spend much time grazing the plants or grasses around them. And if they are not busy doing that, they also burrow.

So for baby Russian Tortoises, you can get started with a 40-100 gallon tank or tub. 

For adults, try to arrange at least a 4′ by 8′ table. Open-top tables work well for adults.


The Russian Tortoises are sensitive to high humidity in the soil. Hence, it is crucial to ensure their enclosure is never located in a damp environment.

Typically, coco coir is the best substrate for Russian Tortoises. However, Orchid Bark works well too, especially for adults.


Suitable Temperature:Timing:

Russian Tortoises typically prefer a basking area with 90-100°F during the day. Indoor habitats will require a UVB bulb. The basking bulb can help you achieve the proper basking temperature and helps your tortoise develop vitamin D3.

russian tortoise basking area temperature

The ideal night temperature is 70-80°F, but they can handle it even if the room temperature becomes a bit colder at night. If you don’t have the right temperature, it can cause your Russian tortoise to stop eating.

Water Sources

It is vital always to have water available to your Russian Tortoise. You can use saucer pans and water dishes to offer water.

Also, you can place properly sized terra cotta plant saucers and sink them into the substrate. This type of bowl helps in giving good traction to the wet feet of the Tortoise.


It is a great idea to add plants to a Russian Tortoise enclosure. But remember that they are herbivores and will try to nibble the plants in the enclosure. 

You can have plants like Coleus and Viola in their enclosure since they can grow well in low light. You can also have spider plants or dandelions.

Making The Best Outdoor Habitat For Russian Tortoise

Although you can keep Russian Tortoises indoors, they do well when placed outdoors, especially during the warmer months.


For outdoors, the minimum enclosure size needs to be 4′ by 4,’ and the walls of the enclosure should be at least 24 inches.

These tortoises are escape artists and nice climbers. Hence, ensure the walls of the enclosure are smooth and don’t have any foothold to prevent the escape. 

Moreover, they are great diggers too, so ensure the walls of the enclosure are at least a 12 inches-depth.


Rocks are another great option for an outdoor Russian Tortoise enclosure. It provides them entertainment and exercises, and can also be used as a basking spot.

Pro Tip: Since Russian tortoises are great climbers and are experts at escaping, avoid putting any large rocks or other items near the walls of the enclosure.


When creating an outdoor habitat for Russian tortoises, it is good to remove the grass from about 20% of the enclosure and create a bare land area. 

You can grow grass and other plants in the remaining 80% of the enclosure.

Pro Tip: You can add small or large rocks to the enclosure as that helps keep the Russian Tortoises’ nails appropriately trimmed.


If you allow your Russian Tortoise to get regular sunshine most of the year, you don’t need to worry about any artificial indoor UV systems.

But do note that the sun can be very hot for them. So always ensure there is enough shade for them all the time. You can do this with plants or you can add a small tortoise house.

Russian Tortoises can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. Therefore, unless you don’t live in a place with severe winters and want to avoid the winter brumation, it is OK not to bring them indoors.

As a precaution, it is good to ensure that the Tortoise has a substrate that they can burrow in to escape the extreme temperatures should they need to do so.

Water Sources

Having water sources in the Russian Tortoise habitat is essential, and you can use a large, shallow saucer pan or dish.

Try to have at least 2 inches of water, and that would be good to go for the Tortoise to soak and drink water.

Ensure to change the water regularly as they often make it dirty and defecate in it. Your tortoise can develop a wide range of bacterial diseases if you don’t regularly clean their water.


Plants are also a great addition to the outdoor Russian Tortoise enclosure. For example, you can have wild strawberry plants. 

Generally, you can select the plants that offer enough shade to the tortoises. However, it is important to only put edible plants in their outdoor enclosure.