Our Privacy/Cookie Policy contains detailed information about the types of cookies & related technology on our site, and some ways to opt out. By using the site, you agree to the uses of cookies and other technology as outlined in our Policy, and to our Terms of Use.


Russian Tortoise Illnesses

i Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Russian tortoises (Testudo or Agrionemys horsfieldii) are widespread in the world of pet reptiles. These smallish tortoises, as their names express, hail not only from Russia, but also from China, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Armenia and Oman. They are also often referred to as both "Afghan tortoises" and "steppe tortoises."

Russian Tortoise Common Illnesses and Signs of Health

Some medical ailments are relatively commonplace in Russian tortoises, so it is crucial to remain vigilant regarding their health. These conditions include skin parasites such as mites, digestive disorders, breathing problems and bone issues. If a Russian tortoise is healthy and free of pressing health concerns, he should have a healthy appearance, as well. Regularly examine your pet for indications of strong health, some of which include eating on a routine basis, alert eyes with no haze or cloudiness, a clean nose area, plenty of physical movement and absence of irregularities on both the skin and the shell. Even if your tortoise appears to be free of illness, however, that may not be the case.

Causes of Breathing Problems

Breathing issues occasionally arise in pet Russian tortoises. These issues may come about due to environmental factors, namely extended exposure to excessive wetness and cool temperatures. For Russian tortoises, cool temperatures are generally only manageable when the air is dry. Some signs of respiratory conditions in Russian tortoises include both nasal discharge and difficulty in breathing normally.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies are also sometimes a problem for Russian tortoises, often due to lack of ultraviolet B (UVB) exposure in their living spaces. If Russian tortoises do not get enough UVB, it can lead to problems in their bodies properly taking in calcium, and ultimately exhaustion, swelling of the joints and soft, weakened bones.

Veterinarian Appointments and Signs of Illness

It is vital to bring your pet Russian tortoise in for regular exotic vet checkups, even right after you first get him. Parasites are a common ailment in these wee reptiles, so make sure that a vet appointment is the first thing on your list once you make the decision to take one of these pets in. After your tortoise's initial visit, take him to the vet for annual checkups. If you ever notice signs of illness, however, immediate vet care is a must. Some indications of malaise are exhaustion, loose stools, appetite loss, sneezing and unusual blottings on either the skin or the shell. With the right care and veterinary attention, pet Russian tortoises can often surpass 40 years in age.