Why is My Russian Tortoise Not Eating

Since eating is such a fundamental aspect of your Russian tortoise’s everyday life, it can be startling when they stop eating. Not eating can be indicative of complications ranging from minor to severe. Either way, it is important to identify the cause of why your Russian tortoise is not eating.

By understanding why your tortoise is not eating, you’ll hopefully be one step closer to resolving the issue before it has any serious consequences on their health. In this article, we’ll explore various reasons that might explain why your Russian tortoise has not been eating its food. We’ll also discuss how you know when it has become serious and you need to visit your veterinarian.

Why is My Russian Tortoise Not Eating?

The main reasons your Russian tortoise is not eating is because they dislike their food, they are too cold, or they are constipated. They might also have a medical condition.

They Dislike Their Food

One of the most obvious reasons why your Russian tortoise might not be eating is that they simply don’t enjoy eating the food that you are providing. Make sure that you are always providing fresh food that is not stale or expired.

My personal favorite for Russian tortoise food are these tortoise pellets. They are designed specifically designed for Russian tortoises.

You can also try to give your Russian tortoise some treats to help stimulate their diet. These gourmet treats have worked very well for me in the past.

If you want some more ideas of what to feed them, you should check out my guide on the best food for a Russian tortoise.

Your tortoise may also go through an adjustment period where they don’t eat much if you’ve just introduced new food into their diet. Most of the time, this is not a major concern.

Try experimenting with different kinds of foods to see what they like best, and make sure you are giving your tortoise fresh foods. You can give them a treat like strawberries to see if they will eat that.

If you give them food that you know they enjoy and they still don’t eat it, there might be something more serious going on. 

They Are Too Cold

Russian tortoises require heat in order to be comfortable and healthy. Their habitat should maintain a temperature of 85-95 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 75-80 degrees during the night.

If you are not making sure that your tortoise is kept in proper, warm conditions, its body may start to slow down significantly. They might also start to brumate. This can also cause them to not come out of their shell.

Since Russian tortoises are cold-blooded creatures, they are not able to regulate their body heat. If their environment is too cold, they will not be able to function properly as their entire body relies on external temperatures for regulation. Therefore, since all of its bodily functions have slowed, it won’t be able to properly digest foods. This will lead your tortoise to consume less food.

For this reason, it is important that you have a heat lamp for your russian tortoise. You should also make sure that you have a substrate that is good at retaining heat.

This is very unhealthy and should be corrected as soon as possible. Ensure that your tortoise is in an environment that is warm enough for them to be happy and healthy.

They Are Constipated 

Since tortoises are cold-blooded, they naturally take longer to digest their food than other animals. Therefore, they don’t need as much food as some of your other pets like cats, dogs, or rodents would. Overfeeding your tortoise may affect its appetite and result in constipation.

If you notice that your tortoise is not eating and you can’t locate any fresh dropping in their enclosure, they may be constipated. To help a Russian tortoise that is experiencing constipation, soak them in a warm, shallow bowl of water for around twenty minutes.

Make sure the water does not get cold. Additionally, make sure they have a source of water available to them as water is the best way to prevent constipation. 

Constipation can also be caused if your Russian tortoise isn’t getting enough calcium.

Medical Conditions that Cause Russian Tortoise Change in Diet 

In more severe cases, illness or infection can be responsible for your Russian tortoise not eating. There are a variety of medical issues that can cause a lack of eating, and most will need to be properly treated by a medical professional.

Your tortoise may have a respiratory infection, a cut or abrasion, shell rot, or parasites. You should closely watch their behaviors to see if they are exhibiting any other symptoms that are out of the ordinary.

Keep a close eye out for lethargy, uncomfortable movement, labored breathing, and anything else that looks concerning. If you suspect that your tortoise has some sort of illness or medical condition that is impacting its ability to eat consistently, take them to your local veterinarian as soon as you can. 

Final Thoughts

There are many different reasons that your Russian tortoise might not be eating, and most of them just require an adjustment to their routine or environment. If you need help setting up their habitat, check out my article on how to make a Russian tortoise habitat.

However, not eating can also indicate more serious medical complications. If this is the case, it will usually be accompanied by other symptoms that you should watch out for. Make sure that all of your tortoise’s needs are met and if they still aren’t eating, you should probably visit your veterinarian just in case.