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The Russian tortoise, Horsfield's tortoise or Central Asian tortoise Agrionemys horsfieldii, is a species of tortoise and a popular pet. The species is named after the American naturalist Thomas Horsfield.
The Russian tortoise is a small tortoise species, ranging from 13-25cm [5-9in.]. Females grow slightly larger - 15-25cm [6-9in.] - to accommodate more eggs. Males average 13-20cm [5-8in.].
Russian tortoises are sexually dimorphic. Males tend to have longer tails generally tucked to the side; females have a short, fat tail. Males have a slit-shaped vent(cloaca) near the tip of their tail;females have an asterisk-shaped vent(cloaca). Russian tortoises have four toes.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.
The male Russian tortoise courts a female through head bobbing, circling, and biting her forelegs. When she submits, he mounts her from behind, making high-pitched squeaking noises during mating.
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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