There is some disagreement as to what the smallest tortoise species is. But many experts believe that the Russian tortoise is one of, if not the smallest. It has a maximum length of 4 to 8 inches. It is certainly one of the smallest you can get as a pet.
Classification of Russian Tortoise
The Russian tortoise is also known as the Central Asian tortoise and the Horsfield’s tortoise. Its scientific name is Testudo horsfieldii. Its genus is Testudo, although some scientists are disputing this. The creature is named after Thomas Horsfield, an American naturalist.
Characteristics of Russian Tortoise
The average size of the Russian tortoise is 25 cm (8-10 inches for females, 6-8 inches for males). The animal is sexually dimorphic. The males possess longer tails which are tucked to one side. The female Russian tortoise is a little bigger.
The female Russian tortoise also has flared scutes on its shell. The color varies, but the shell is typically black or ruddy brown. The color changes to yellow in-between the scutes. The average lifespan of a tortoise is 75 years. Their average speed is 0.17 miles per hour (0.27 km/h).
Another candidate for the smallest tortoise is Hermann's Tortoise. Hermann's Tortoise refers to five types of tortoise species belonging to the Testudo species. The Russian tortoise is included in this group.
The others are the Marginated tortoise (T. marginata), Greek tortoise (T. graeca), Dalmatian tortoise (T.h. hercegovinensis), Eastern Hermann's tortoise (T.h. boettgeri) and Western Hermann's tortoise (T. h. hermanni).
The sizes of the species vary. Some specimens of the T. h. hermanni do not grow bigger than 7 cm (3 inches). Average wise though, its length is 18 cm (7.5 inches).
Hermann’s tortoise is found mostly in southern Europe. The western variants are found in central Italy (Tuscany), Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, Baleares islands, southern France and east of Spain. The eastern variants are in Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, and other nations in Eastern Europe.
Majority of land based tortoises feed on flowers, leafy greens, weeds and grasses. Some tortoises feed on fruits too. Tortoises kept as pets are usually fed specific types of flowers, wild grasses and weeds. Some tortoises feed on insects or worms. But tortoises should not be fed too much of tighten because it could damage the shell.
Whether you have the smallest tortoise or not, it is crucial that they not be fed dog or cat food. Those food do not have the right amount of nutrition needed by the tortoise to grow and become healthy.