Why Is My Russian Tortoise Not Eating?

After publishing our article going over why a new tortoise may not be eating, we have noticed a number of people specifically reaching out for advice on why a Russian tortoise may not be eating so we have decided to publish this article going over the more common problems your tortoise may be having that can stop it eating. Thankfully, the majority of these problems are relatively easy to solve and most people should be able to get their pet Russian tortoise eating again quickly.

It can be normal for a Russian tortoise who has only recently be placed in a new enclosure to not eat food for a couple of days until the tortoise feels safe in its new home. Less common reasons that your Russian tortoise may not be eating include problems with the temperature being too high or too low, the tortoise being on an unsuitable diet, or in more serious cases, various health-related problems.

Most Russian tortoises can go through a brumation/hibernation period during the colder months where they will eat minimal food with this being totally normal for the species. If you are currently heading into the colder months in your area then this may be the reason why your Russian tortoise is not eating but you can book a video call with a veterinarian to have them check your tortoise over and offer you specific advice on the circumstances of your tortoise.

Is It Normal For A Russian Tortoise To Not Eat?

It can be normal and totally natural for a Russian tortoise to eat less food in certain situations. Most commonly this is if the tortoise is in a new enclosure or if it is starting a period of brumation or hibernation during the colder months of the year. This is generally nothing to worry about but there can be more serious issues that are not normal that can cause your tortoise to eat less too.

Most people who are new to keeping Russian tortoises can start worrying if they notice that their tortoise is not eating much but a tortoise can usually go for a surprisingly long period of time without eating much and not have any issues. This is due to them having evolved to have a prolonged brumation/hibernation period where they will eat minimal food and have to be fine when the phase ends.

One way that you can try to confirm if your tortoise does have any serious issues is to keep an eye on its water intake as a Russian tortoise that is starting a brumation/hibernation phase will still usually drink its normal water intake even if its food intake does start to taper off. This is not a foolproof method though and it will offer no indication as to if your tortoise is not eating due to it being offered an unsuitable diet either but it is a little trick you can use to try and put your mind at ease.

Why Is My Russian Tortoise Not Eating?

If you have ruled out the possibility of your Russian tortoise eating less due to being in a new enclosure or starting a brumation/hibernation phase, you have to look for problems with your tortoise’s health, temperature, and diet. It can be common for people new to keeping Russian tortoises to have problems with their temperature and diet causing them to eat less this both problems often being an easy fix.

We see people trying to feed their pet Russian tortoise an omnivorous diet with animal protein included in it but a Russian tortoise is a herbivorous animal. They require a diet that is predominantly made from succulent vegetation and an unsuitable diet can cause your Russian tortoise to eat less with animal protein being able to cause problems with their digestive system.

A Russian tortoise will usually do well in an environment that is 68 to 80 degrees but they will often require a warmer basking area that is 90 to 100 degrees. Even though your Russian tortoise may only spend a small amount of time in the warmer area of its tank, a lack of a basking area can cause the tortoise to enter a sort of pseudo prep for hibernation/brumation and start to eat less.

How Long Can A Russian Tortoise Go Without Eating?

A healthy, adult Russian tortoise can usually go around three months without eating food but there are a number of factors that you have to take into account. This three month time period is when the tortoise has gone through proper preparation for brumation/hibernation to have its body adjust as required for the fasting time period.

Even if you have a healthy Russian tortoise that is not eating much due to having a health problem, it is unlikely that it will be able to last as long with minimal food due to the lack of preparation. This is why we often recommend that you still book a video call with a veterinarian even if you are confident you know why your tortoise is not eating to have them confirm the diagnosis as you may have missed something.

If your Russian tortoise is not eating much due to being in a new environment then it should start eating again within a week or two as it adjusts to its new home. A healthy Russian tortoise should easily be able to last this long without issue even without preparation for fasting. Just keep fresh food in the tank for your Russian tortoise to eat as and when it chooses to start eating again to make sure it is healthy and has quick and easy access to food.

Conclusion

That brings our article going over why your Russian tortoise is not eating to an end. We hope that we have been able to help you better understand why your Russian tortoise may not be eating as well as the things you can do to try and help your tortoise. There is usually no need to worry if your Russian tortoise is not eating as the more common causes are totally natural but you should still keep a close eye on your tortoise until it starts eating a normal amount again.