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Hi, I've been an owner of (what I believe to be) a female Russian Tortoise for about 5 months now. I'm based in the UK.
I've recently noticed my tort is virtually not eating at all. And when she does it only fruit (which I know I shouldn't be giving but I'm trying my best to get anything I can into her) & the pellets (I have stopped giving her these as I have read they are not suitable).
She will not touch any of her greens and is spending virtually all of her time asleep. I keep her in a very large vivarium (my house temperatures would drop to low to keep her in a table). I think she's around 2 but when we bought her we bought her from a shop keeper who had no idea what he was doing & told us she was 6 months. She is WAY to big to be 6 months.
I soak her daily or every other day. I'm worried she may be preparing herself to hibernate but she's too young and the temps are well regulated.
I'm very worried about her. Any advice would be great!

Answer
Hi Roz,

She is certainly right on schedule for the autumn slowdown that can be typical of Russians and other Mediterranean tortoises. Still, it is never a bad idea to have a vet assess her for your own peace of mind.

You mention that she is too young to hibernate.  While it is not recommended to artificially hibernate young tortoises in captivity, they do hibernate in the wild. They don't have much choice! :) She is likely responding to the shorter days and barometric pressure changes that come with this season. It is not uncommon for reptile species that either hibernate or brumate to slow down this time of year despite the presence of artificial heating. She will probably seek out the cooler, darker parts of the enclosure.

What many Russian keepers end up doing is maintaining the regular environment and just letting the tortoise be their guide as to when they want to wake up and become fully active again. Others opt to lengthen the artificial light cycle and raise the heat to try to bring them out of the slowdown.

Soaking her and offering some food a couple times a week should be sufficient. I would also suggest weighing her during those times. Weight maintenance is a good sign that everything is fine. I would also strongly recommend that you drop the fruit completely. It can cause serious intestinal imbalance  which you really want to avoid when her metabolism is low.

This forum had a thread with keepers experiencing winter slowdown with their Russians that you might fine helpful or at least reassuring.

http://russiantortoisepictures.com/forum/index.php?topic=4512.0

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Expertise

I can answer questions on the proper husbandry and diet of Iguanas, bearded dragons, geckoes, skinks, chameleons, tortoises, box turtles, treefrogs, non-venomous snakes and tarantulas. Also the breeding of some species of feeder insects. I have no experience with venonmous snakes and only limited experience with aquatic turtles.

Experience

I have been keeping and breeding reptiles for over 30 years. In addition to my regular job in the medical field I also worked for several years in a pet store that specialized only in exotics. The job entailed both caring for and answering questions on innumerable species. It required constant, extensive research into a wide range of reptiles. I have been called to appear on televised national media (CBC, CTV and Life Channel) as well as CBC radio to discuss the proper care of reptiles and other exotics in captivity. I currently own one or more species of those listed under my expertise with the exception of chameleons. I owned chameleons for years but keep none currently. I keep over 20 snakes comprising 5 species, both Colubridae and Boidae. I bred corn snakes for several years. I have a particular interest in treefrogs and currently have 5 different species. I've raised redfoot tortoises for 10 years and have two iguanas, one for 12 years.

Publications
A small and now defunct local magazine called "Pet Vue"

Education/Credentials
Diagnostic medical microbiology with some parasitology experience.

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