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The Diet of the Horsfield's Tortoise

Updated November 21, 2016

Horsfield's tortoises, or Russian tortoises, are native to parts of the Middle East such as Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. Because of the dry, arid climate and the harsh winters in these areas, Horsfield's tortoises hibernate for about nine months out of the year. In the wild, Horsfield's tortoises only consume plants. There are a variety of different foods that they can be fed in captivity.

Natural Diet

In the wild, Horsfield's tortoises are strictly vegetarians. They feed mostly on grasses, leaves, stems, fruits and flowers found in their natural habitat. The Horsfield's tortoise gets most of its moisture from the plants it eats, though it does occasionally drink water from puddles or streams after a rainfall.

Leaves and Flowers

In captivity, Horsfield's tortoises prefer to eat leaves such as mulberry leaves, flowers such as hibiscus, and weeds such as dandelion. In captivity, many Horsfield's tortoises eat hay. Often, the hay is mixed in with other vegetation to provide variety in their diet.

Vegetables and Fruits

Horsfield's tortoises can be fed many different kinds of vegetables including squash, carrots and bell peppers. They will also eat fruits like bananas, strawberries and figs. While fruits and vegetables can be an important part of a captive Horsfield's tortoise's diet, the majority of their food should be greens, leaves and flowers.

Greens

Feeding a Horsfield's tortoise a variety of greens is a good way to keep his diet healthy. Horsfield's tortoises will eat cabbage, kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, endive, romaine lettuce and collard greens.

Hibernation

In their natural habitat, Horsfield's tortoises hibernate much of the year and are active for only a few months. Because of this, they are conditioned to eat lots of food in a relatively short period of time in order to store up for the winter months. When kept in captivity, Horsfield's tortoises do not hibernate and overeating can become a problem. It is important that their meals are portioned and that they get plenty of exercise to avoid this.

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