Hermann's Tortoise vs. Russian Tortoise

Hermann’s Tortoise vs. Russian Tortoise The Ultimate Comparison

If you are looking to welcome a pet tortoise to your home, carrying out research to find the perfect fit is necessary. Many people come to the choice between Hermann’s Tortoise vs. Russian Tortoise due to their smaller size. As well as having a reputation of being beginner-friendly, these are the species that people find themselves choosing between.

First, let me point out before jumping into the difference that the Russian tortoise is also commonly called a Horsefield tortoise. So, you may have come here looking to choose between the Hermann or Horsefield tortoise.

Here is a quick snapshot of the Hermann Tortoise and Russian Tortoise in a comparison table. Below we go into a little more detail on the differences.

Hermann’s TortoiseRussian Tortoise
Common NamesHermann’sAfghan tortoise, steppe tortoise, Horsfield’s tortoise, and Central Asian tortoise
Scientific NameTestudo HermanniAgrionemys horsfieldii
SpeciesT. hermanniA. horsfieldii
OriginMediterranean Europe and the Balkans GeneralRussia, Iran, Pakistan, and Western China
Size13-20 cm (5-8 in)12-20 cm (5-8 in)
Weight3-4 kg (7-9lb)0.5-1.5 kg (1-3lb)
Lifespan50 years lifespan40 years lifespan
OutsideOutside as much as possible hardy to poor weatherOutside as much as possible less tolerant to poor weather
Enclosure Size3.7ft in length4ft x 2ft x 12-14in
LightingUV and Heating when indoorsUV and Heating when indoors
HeatingDay Time 15°C-30°C (60°F-85°F)
Basking Spot 15°C-30°C (60°F-85°F)
Night Time 5°C-25°C (40°F-75°F)
Day Time 15°C-30°C (60°F-85°F)
Basking Spot 15°C-30°C (60°F-85°F)
Night Time 5°C-25°C (40°F-75°F)
SubstrateAny tortoise friendly substrateA substrate that allows them to burrow
DietStrict herbivorestrict herbivore
Social StructureHappy to live alone with females happy to live togetherExtraordinarily territorial and generally do not mix well with others
Price$150-$200 (£110-£145)$130 – $180 (£95 -£130)

Size and Weight Differences

Both the Hemann’s tortoise and the Russian tortoise are relatively small tortoises, making them an excellent choice for many. Due to their smaller size, they require much smaller enclosures than many other tortoise species.

Hermann adult tortoise will range in size from 13-20 cm (5-8 in) and have a weight ranging between 3-4 kg (7-9lb). Females will be, on average, 12% larger than their male counterparts. It will be hard to disguise male and female tortoises if they are younger than four years old.

Russian adult tortoise will range in size from 12-20 cm (5-8 in) and have a weight ranging between 0.5-1.5 kg (1-3lb); females are slightly larger than males but not as significant as Hermann male and female tortoises.


A tortoise is a big commitment, and despite the shorter lifespan than other tortoise species. The Hermann and Russian tortoise have a long lifespan when compared to something like a dog.

Hermann tortoises have a predicted 50 years lifespan in the wild; this is cut dramatically to 30 years due to predators.

Russian tortoises have a predicted 40 years lifespan, but this is seen as a low estimate, and 50+ would not be unusual.

Outside and Enclosure Size

Hermann tortoises are thought to be a lot more hardy when it comes to dealing with the weather. If you live in a wetter and colder area, then Hermann may be a perfect choice.

Hermann tortoises should be kept outside as much as possible when the weather permits. The Hermann tortoise is hardy but will need an area that drains well and an enclosure to escape the weather. Indoor enclosures should be big enough for them to freely roam adults will need an enclosure around 3.7ft in length.

Russian tortoises should be offered as much outside living as possible however they are not quite as hardy as Hermann tortoises. You also need to make sure your border is secure as they are excellent burrowers and can easily dig themselves out of your yard. You may have to bury chicken wire to stop them from escaping. The indoor enclosure should be 4ft x 2ft x 12-14in.

Lighting and Heating Requirements

There is very little difference between the Hermann and Russian tortoise needs when it comes to lighting and heating.

Hermann tortoises need UV lighting when they are in there are kept inside. The daytime temperature should range between 15°C-30°C (60°F-85°F) and have a basking spot of around 32°C-35°C (90°F-95°F). Temperatures at night should drop between 5°C-25°C (40°F-75°F).

Russian tortoises as with all tortoises, you will need to supply them with UV light when kept indoors. Daytime temperatures will need to be held between 15°C -30°C (60°F -85°F) and nighttime temperature 5°C -25°C (40°F -75°F).

Substrate Requirements

With the Russian tortoise requiring a substrate that allows them, to burrow it can limit choices. Hermanns, on the other hand, are easier to cater for with many options on hand.

Hermann tortoises are not too fussed about the substrates they require, and anything that is recommended for tortoise will be fine hay, straw to name but two.

Russian tortoises on the other hand, require a substrate that allows them to burrow. A soil and sand mix will be a perfect substrate that will enable them to burrow and hide as they would in the wild.

Hermann’s Tortoise and Russian Tortoise Diet’s

Diet in captivity is very similar between the Hermann tortoise and the Russian tortoise; the only real difference is that the latter can eat a little more fruit.

Hermann tortoises are 90% herbivorous and occasionally eat invertebrates when in the wild, but it’s recommended that you feed as a strict herbivore in captivity. An herbivorous mix of leafy green vegetation that should be easy to provide.

Russian tortoises are herbaceous and eat succulent vegetation, including grasses, twigs, flowers, and a little fruit. They don’t ever eat invertebrates, not even in the wild.

Social Structure

If you are planning on having multiple tortoises, then there is only one tortoise that I would recommend: the Hermann tortoise.

Hermann tortoises are very happy to live alone, and it is not necessary to offer them a companion. You should not mix Hermann’s that have a large difference in size, and you should not keep males together as they can fight. Females seem to be more than happy to live together, and one male with multiple females is also ok.

Russian tortoises are extraordinarily territorial and generally do not mix well with other species of tortoise. It is also recommended that you keep the Russian tortoise separate from the same species’ tortoises due to their aggression.


These prices are estimates and treated as such. However, something a lot cheaper should sound alarm bells that something isn’t quite right.

Hermann tortoises will cost around $150-$200 (£110-£145)

Russian tortoises will cost around $130 – $180 (£95 -£130)

Can you keep Hermann and Horsfield tortoises together?

Unfortunately, not Hermann and the Russian tortoise will most likely fight there their death. Hermann tortoise will nip, but due to the Russian tortoise’s aggressive nature, they will bite and tear at the Hermann tortoise’s legs, head, and neck. A tortoise skin is hardy; however, the Russian tortoise skin is much more so than the Hermann’s.

If they survive the fighting when kept together, you have the next problem of cross-contamination. Each tortoise species has its pathogens that other species may not be immune to, causing health problems.