IUCN threat status:

Vulnerable (VU)


Read full entry

Russian tortoise

The Russian tortoise, Horsfield's tortoise or Central Asian tortoise Agrionemys horsfieldii, is a species of tortoise and a popular pet. The species is named after the American naturalist Thomas Horsfield.


The Russian tortoise is a small tortoise species, ranging from 13-25cm [5-9in.]. Females grow slightly larger - 15-25cm [6-9in.] - to accommodate more eggs. Males average 13-20cm [5-8in.].

Russian tortoises are sexually dimorphic. Males tend to have longer tails generally tucked to the side; females have a short, fat tail. Males have a slit-shaped vent(cloaca) near the tip of their tail;females have an asterisk-shaped vent(cloaca). Russian tortoises have four toes.Coloration varies, but the shell is usually a ruddy brown or black, fading to yellow between the scutes, and the body is straw-yellow and brown.

The male Russian tortoise courts a female through head bobbing, circling, and biting her forelegs. When she submits, he mounts her from behind, making high-pitched squeaking noises during mating.[2]


This species is traditionally placed in Testudo. Due to distinctly different morphological characteristics, the monotypic genus Agrionemys was proposed for it in 1966. Today, Agrionemys horsfieldii is currently being accepted.[3] DNA sequence analysis generally concurs, but not too robustly so.[4] Some sources also list three separate subspecies of Russian tortoise, but they are not widely accepted by taxonomists:[5]

  • T. h. horsfieldii (Gray, 1844) – Afghanistan/Pakistan and southern Central Asia
  • T. h. kazachstanica Chkhikvadze, 1988 – Kazakhstan/Karakalpakhstan
  • T. h. rustamovi Chkhikvadze, Amiranschwili & Atajew, 1990 – southwestern Turkmenistan


  1. ^ Fritz Uwe; Peter Havaš (2007). "Checklist of Chelonians of the World". Vertebrate Zoology 57 (2): 301–302. ISSN 18640-5755. Archived from the original on 2010-12-17. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  2. ^ http://russiantortoise.net/breeding.htm
  3. ^ Khozatsky & Mlynarski (1966)
  4. ^ e.g. Fritz et al. (2005)
  5. ^ http://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/species.php?genus=Testudo&species=horsfieldii


Species Testudo horsfieldii at The Reptile Database
  • da Nóbrega Alves, Rômulo Romeu; da Silva Vieira; Washington Luiz & Gomes Santana, Gindomar (2008): Reptiles used in traditional folk medicine: conservation implications. Biodiversity and Conservation 17(8): 2037–2049. doi:10.1007/s10531-007-9305-0 (HTML abstract, PDF first page)
  • Fritz, Uwe; Kiroký, Pavel; Kami, Hajigholi & Wink, Michael (2005): Environmentally caused dwarfism or a valid species - Is Testudo weissingeri Bour, 1996 a distinct evolutionary lineage? New evidence from mitochondrial and nuclear genomic markers. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37: 389–401. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2005.03.007
  • Khozatsky, L.I. & Mlynarski, M. (1966): Agrionemys - nouveau genre de tortues terrestres (Testudinidae). Bulletin de l'Académie Polonaise des Sciences II - Série des Sciences Biologiques 2: 123-125.
  • Tortoise & Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (TFTSG) (1996). Testudo horsfieldii. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Listed as Vulnerable (VU A2d v2.3)
  • Alderton, D.: Turtles and Tortoises of the World. New York, New York: Facts on File, 1988.
  • Ernst, C. H. and Barbour, R. W.: Turtles of the World. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989.
  • Highfield, A. C.: Keeping and Breeding Tortoises in Captivity. Avon, England: R & A Publishing, 1990.
  • Obst, F. J.: Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins. St. Martin's Press, New York, 1988.
  • Pritchard, P. C. H.: Encyclopedia of Turtles. Neptune City, New Jersey: T.F.H. Publications. 1979.
  • Pursall, B.: Mediterranean Tortoises. Neptune City, New Jersey: T.F.H. Publications, 1994.
  • Wahlquist, H.: Horsfield's tortoise, Agrionemys horsfieldii. Tortuga Gazette 27(6): 1-3, June 1991.


Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Source: Wikipedia

Belongs to 1 community


EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!