Central Asian Tortoise

(Agrionemys horsfieldii)

Common Name: Central Asian Tortoise (aka Russian Tortoise)

Scientific Name: Agrionemys horsfieldii

Reptiles Alive Name: Russiano

Hisssstory: Unwanted pet

RA Diet: A robust herbivorous diet of greens, fruits, veggies, and seeds. Many of the plants come right from the RA vegetable garden. In the warm summer months, Russiano grazes freely in the tortoise yard. Nom nom!

Natural Diet: High fiber and low protein. Since the Russian tortoise hibernates during much of the year, they eat “almost anything” they come across when they are active. Grasses are the most common edible plant in their harsh habitat.

Range: Russian tortoises are found throughout much of central Asia. They are especially common in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of Iran.

Habitat: The climate of this region is harsh and drastically changes season to season. The summers are extremely hot and dry and winters are bitterly cold. Due to the harsh weather, the Russian Tortoise have adopted adapted to safely burrow underground for up to 9 months of the year. They only emerge in the spring to breed and eat when there is plenty of food available.

Size: Female Russian tortoises are typically larger than males once mature. However, even the largest females rarely exceed 8 inches in length.

Lifespan: 50 or more years

Reproduction: Males fight each other for the attention of the females. The fight generally involves males running at each other and the ramming their shells. The goal is to flip the other male over onto his back. If this happens, the upside-down male better be quick to right himself since he can die in the sun if he doesn’t manage to turn back over. Depending on where in the range the tortoise lives, the female Russian tortoises lay their eggs between March and June. A typical clutch consists of two to four oval eggs, two or three clutches per season not being uncommon. The eggs incubate 61-75 days and hatch out tiny self sufficient little tortoises.

Conservation: Unlike the plight of many animals who become victims of habitat destruction and pollution, the largest problem for Russian tortoise populations is collection of wild tortoises for the pet trade.

Cool Facts: Russian tortoises are very good diggers! They happily dig in any kind of soil conditions, including very hard-packed substrates. What enables them to do this is their stubborn attitude and extremely powerful front legs!
The cool fact Reptiles Alive “digs” the most is that the Russian tortoise was the first in space! They orbited the Earth and moon with a bunch of other animals and astronauts in the Soviet interplanetary probe number five in October 1986!

“Rachel was great. She kept 13 nine year old boys’ attention for the whole time. You could see kids follow her every word.” – David Chesnick, Dad, Falls Church, VA



Phone: (703) 560-0257
Fax: (703) 560-7531

Sign up for Reptiles Alive Emails

* = required field


  1. Leesburg Flower & Garden Festival Reptiles Alive Show

    April 21 @ 11:00 am - 11:45 am
  2. Mason Neck State Park Eagle Festival

    May 12 @ 11:15 am - 5:00 pm
We had a great experience with Reptiles Alive for my daughter’s 6th birthday party. Rachel arrived exactly on time, set up quickly, and immediately engaged the group of curious children. We had an impromptu dance party while waiting for last minute guests and Rachel was very accommodating. The children LOVED the show!! And my soon-to-be 11 year old wants them to come for his birthday! I highly recommend Reptiles Alive for your next event!read more

Kelly Maguire

Kelly Maguire

22:57 12 Mar 18

We just had Reptiles Alive come to our preschool and the kids loved it!! We had 4 shows over 2 days to accommodate all our children and everything went great! Caroline was very easy to work with and quick to respond to all my emails. She was our presenter too and was early each day and ready to go when the kids arrived. She really geared her show towards our audience (2-5yr olds) and had them laughing and answering her questions and touching the animals. It was perfect… we would definitely book them again!!read more

Lauren Dolinski

Lauren Dolinski

20:47 01 Mar 18

We booked Reptiles Alive for our son’s 7th birthday party. Miss Rachel put on an amazing show for the 20 kids we had over. The highlight was when my son and I had the chance to hold a long and surprisingly heavy boa constrictor named Sunflower. The show was both educational and fun for the kids, and it kept them captivated for a full hour – priceless!!read more

Rick Jandrain

Rick Jandrain

01:53 06 Feb 18

Rachel is an awesome instructor and very good with many kids. The reptiles were fascinating. This was a great birthday party for my daughter and her second grade class.read more

Robert McKeon

Robert McKeon

23:26 26 Feb 18

We invited Reptiles Alive for our birthday party. Ms. Rachel did a wonderful job to educate the kids about the fun facts of Reptiles and also kept them entertained and focused. It’s not a easy job facing a bunch of 7-year-old boys and 3-year-old preschoolers. We highly recommend Reptiles Alive show. It’s fun and full of knowledge!read more

Tianchan Niu

Tianchan Niu

22:09 17 Dec 17