If you are considering purchasing or adopting a Russian tortoise, you’ll want to know how much they cost. Not only will you have to take into account the average price to buy one, but you’ll need to know about the other costs that these pets can incur over the course of their very long lives. Here’s all of the information you need to know to make your financial plans.
So, how much does a Russian tortoise cost? The cost of a Russian tortoise on average is between $100 to $400. That is just for the tortoise alone. Other upfront costs, such as enclosure items, will cost around $300 to $400. Expect to pay a further $400 per year for their care (food, primarily).
And to get a proper understanding of your financial commitment, you will, of course, need to consider their lifespan.
Russian tortoises can live up to, and beyond, 50 years old on average!
So, a little bit of simple math here tells us that you’ll be paying around $20,000 over the course of your torts life!
Quite a lot, right?
These reptiles do not necessarily come cheap when we think of it in this way.
But do consider that’s an average, and they’ll certainly be years you pay more (like in the first few years) or less (mid-life when the cost of vets naturally reduces).
But it is important to consider nonetheless.
With that in mind, let us now explore all the costs in greater detail to give you a greater understanding of what to expect!
- 1 Factors That Influence the Cost of a Russian Tortoise
- 2 Other Upfront Costs When Buying a Russian Tortoise
- 3 Ongoing Costs When Owning a Russian Tortoise
- 4 Finally
Factors That Influence the Cost of a Russian Tortoise
There are several factors that impact the cost of a Russian tortoise.
The Age Of The Russian Tortoise
Age is a significant factor in the purchase price of a Russian tortoise.
Babies or hatchlings will practically always cost twice as much as an older tortoise.
Hatchlings can cost from $300 to $400, while young babies tend to cost from $200 to $300.
Adult tortoises are the cheapest option, usually starting at $100.
If money is a consideration for you, consider adopting an older tortoise from an animal rescue shelter.
You will be providing a loving home for a tortoise in need!
The Origin Of Your Russian Tortoise
Tortoises that have been bred in captivity tend to be less expensive than those that have been caught in the wild.
Wild Russian tortoises are found in many parts of central Asia.
If you already own a tortoise and are looking to get another one, a captive-bred tortoise is a good idea, as you’ll have a better idea of that tortoise’s life before it comes into your home.
The Type Of Russian Tortoise Seller
Where you purchase your pet will influence the cost.
Prices can vary enormously between local reptile breeders and nationwide franchises, so it pays to shop around.
However, consider how your tortoise was treated before you purchase it.
Most pet chains focus on profit rather than animal care.
A local business will usually have taken much better care of their animals, so you may wish to put your money towards supporting these businesses, which are often kinder to their pets.
The happier and better looked after your tortoise is, the healthier your friend is likely to be.
And a healthy tortoise is cheaper to look after in the long run – fewer vet bills!
Other Upfront Costs When Buying a Russian Tortoise
In addition to the purchase price of your Russian tortoise, you’ll want to plan for other initial costs.
Housing For Your Russian Tortoise
Your tort will need an enclosure that is at least 36 inches long by 12 inches wide, but generally speaking, the bigger the enclosure, the happier your Russian tortoise can be.
Good enclosures for tortoises can range in cost from $125 to $200, depending on the size and brand.
Top-rated brands are often in the $150 to $200 range.
You’ll also need to buy an outdoor enclosure so that your tortoise can enjoy the warm weather and soak up some UV rays. UV rays are essential to their health.
The minimum size for an outdoor enclosure is 48 inches by 48 inches so that your friend has room to explore.
For colder days or when your tortoise is inside, you’ll want to provide a UV lamp that you’ll keep on for 12 to 14 hours a day.
UV lamps for tortoises cost on average $50.
The ideal temperature for your tortoise is 75 to 85 degrees F, in a dry atmosphere with plenty of shade.
Hides and Dehumidifiers
Additionally, make sure you provide an area for your tortoise to hide in, as well as a dehumidifier (if you live in a humid environment).
Dehumidifiers for tortoise tanks start at about $50.
The enclosure will also require a layer of substrate that’s one to two inches thick. You can use cypress mulch or similar, which is the best substrate for the Russian tortoise species.
The cost of the substrate is about $50.
Food For Your Russian Tortoise
Your tortoise’s ideal diet needs to include plants, fruits, and vegetables. Tortoise experts recommend a diet rich in calcium and high in fiber while being low in protein.
Initially, you’ll probably spend about $50 on food for your friend, with daily food costs being around $1.
To save money on food, consider buying some items in bulk.
Some favorite Russian tortoise foods include:
- Hibiscus and other flowers (roses, Californian poppies, chrysanthemums)
- Romaine lettuce (avoid iceberg which has no nutritional value)
- Collard greens
- Plantain (weed)
- Mustard greens
- Hay (finely chopped)
Make sure that the food you feed your tortoise is certified organic or at least pesticide-free.
If you are a keen gardener, you can grow great tortoise-friendly foods in your yard, such as dandelion flowers, roses, spinach, mallow flowers, and broad leafy greens.
Ongoing Costs When Owning a Russian Tortoise
There are some ongoing costs for your Russian tortoise, but the good news is that they are relatively low compared to other pets.
Russian tortoises require a long-term commitment, as they can live for over 50 years.
Over the course of their long lives, in addition to food, the main ongoing cost to consider is vet checkups.
Fortunately, vet checkups for tortoises aren’t too expensive and usually work out at about $30.
The best practice is to have your tortoise’s health checked each year to prevent any health complications.
Of course, you should definitely get a full health checkup for your tortoise when you purchase your tort.
The best form of prevention of any health issues, apart from the proper care, is to know what to look for if your friend appears to be ill.
The sooner you can catch any problems, the easier (and probably cheaper) they’ll be to treat.
Healthy Signs In Your Russian Tortoise
Look for all of the following signs of good tortoise health:
- Their shell is smooth and free from any irregularities
- Their urates are semi-liquid and white
- They are active and engage in soaking in water as well as basking in the heat
- They eat regularly and have a consistent appetite
Signs Of Sickness In Your Russian Tortoise
If you see any of these signs, bring your Russian tortoise to the vet right away:
- Irregularities in their skin or on their shell (sometimes there can be blood from their shell)
- Any discharge around your friend’s eyes, mouth, or nose
- Sudden weight loss or inactivity (especially any lethargy, listlessness, or even not being able to walk)
- Wheezing or other breathing difficulties
Your Russian tortoise won’t need much supplementation, apart from some calcium powder sprinkled over their food twice a week: pots of calcium powder range in cost from $6 to $20.
However, if you house your tortoise mostly outside, your friend will get all the required calcium from grazing on weeds, and so you can save yourself the cost of supplements.
While it’s true that tortoises need more calcium than other animals to keep their shell healthy, wild tortoises find plenty of it.
Most wild tortoises have their habitats near calcium-rich soil, which provides rich minerals to the plants they eat.
Some tortoises may give themselves a calcium booster by eating some of the soil with their food.
Tortoises naturally seek out sources of calcium if their body tells them they need it – and this could include bleached bones or snail shells.
The good news is that you don’t need to provide your tortoise with snail shells – though you could, if you wish, place a cuttlebone in your pet’s enclosure.
Your tort will munch on it as and when needed.
Wild foods are particularly rich in nutritional value since these weeds are strong plants that have adapted to their local environment.
They haven’t been sitting on a supermarket shelf – they are packed with highly beneficial nutrients, both for humans and for tortoises!
Fresh water doesn’t need to cost anything if the tap water in your area is good. If you drink it, it should be fine for your friend.
If, however, you have to filter your drinking water, do the same for your tortoise. Don’t use distilled water, as this type of water has no mineral content.
Your tortoise will need a shallow bowl of water, replenished daily with fresh water.
Make sure your tortoise can climb inside for a good soak. Soaking in water helps your tortoise regulate body temperature and absorb moisture.
Don’t buy a deep bowl, though, because Russian tortoises can’t swim!
No Need for Insects
You can also save money on having to buy crickets or other insects.
Russian tortoises are herbivores, so there’s no need to feed them insects.
One less thing to worry about!
Russian tortoises are not the most expensive pets to purchase up front.
But it is over the course of their lives and the continued expense where they are a real financial commitment.
Taking one of these on really is a big commitment; you need to dedicate a large portion of your life to their care.
Just like the tortoise and the hare fable, being able to afford these wonderful reptiles is a marathon and not a sprint!
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.