The Russian tortoise, Horsfield's tortoise or Central Asian tortoise Agrionemys horsfieldii, is a species of tortoise that is a popular pet. It is named after the American naturalist Thomas Horsfield.
The Russian tortoise is a small tortoise species, ranging from about 13 to 25 cm (13–20 cm for males, 15–25 cm for females). They are sexually dimorphic in that the females grow slightly larger, males tend to have longer tails generally tucked to the side, and females tend to have flared scutes on their shells, while males do not. The male has a concave bump on the bottom half of the shells so they can mount females during intercourse, while the females has a flat bottom. The mating of these tortoises usually takes 10-12 hours. Coloration varies, but the shell is usually a ruddy brown or black, fading to yellow between the scutes, and the body is straw-yellow and brown. They have four toes. They live such a long time (about 30+ years), people who keep them as pets often leave them in their wills. They are usually rather social with humans.
This species is traditionally placed in Testudo. Due to distinctly different morphological characteristics, the monotypic genus Agrionemys was proposed for it in 1966. Today, Agrionemys horsfieldii is currently being accepted. DNA sequence analysis generally concurs, but not too robustly so. Some sources also list three separate subspecies of Russian tortoise, but they are not widely accepted by taxonomists:
- T. h. horsfieldii (Gray, 1844) – Afghanistan/Pakistan and southern Central Asia
- T. h. kazachstanica Chkhikvadze, 1988 – Kazakhstan/Karakalpakhstan
- T. h. rustamovi Chkhikvadze, Amiranschwili & Atajew, 1990 – southwestern Turkmenistan
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- Tortoise & Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (TFTSG) (1996). Testudo horsfieldii. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Listed as Vulnerable (VU A2d v2.3)
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