środa, 6 lipca 2011
Tortoise - Russian tortoise/Horsfield's tortoise/Central Asian tortoise
The Russian tortoise, Horsfield's tortoise or Central Asian tortoise (Testudo horsfieldii, but see "Systematics" below) 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 15 to 25 cm (6-8 inches for males, 8-10 inches for females). They are sexually dimorphic in that the females grow slightly larger, males tend to have a longer tail that is generally tucked to the side, and females tend to have flared scutes on their shells, while males do not. Coloration varies, but the shell is usually a ruddy brown or black, fading to yellow between the scutes, and the body itself straw-yellow and brown. They have four toes. They live for so long (about 75 years) that people who keep them as pets often leave them in their will. They are usually rather social with humans. They are a popular pet.
The Russian tortoise ranges from Afghanistan to north-western China, through the countries of Russia,m Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, and Pakistan. It usually lives in dry areas with sparse vegetation.
Russian tortoises hibernate during winter and estivate during the summer when temperatures are high. They are avid burrowers and can dig large burrows that might be two meters (six feet) long. They are herbivorous, and active grazers when the temperature is right, consuming a wide variety of weeds and grasses. In captivity, suitable foodplants include:
- Lactuca sativa lettuce, especially Romaine and green and red Looseleaf cultivars
- Dandelions, a favorite
In the wild, the Russian Tortoise is considered vulnerable to extinction in the mid-long term. Human construction encroaching upon its habitat is the main cause of endangerment; it is also hunted locally for use in folk medicine. Trade in wild animals is restricted, and captive-breds should be preferred as pets as they are hardier. They also tend to be less shy than other tortoises and have an appealing, pugnacious temperament.
Russian tortoises are popular pets primarily because of their small size, and they are also an extremely hardy species. While captive breeding is becoming more commonplace, large retailers rely on wild caught specimens to sell as pets. These are sometimes in poor health because of the stress of capture and transport. Russian tortoises kept as pets readily consume a wide variety of greens and weeds. While they will also eat fruit, it should not be given, as excess sugars can cause bacterial blooms in their stomachs. They need exposure to UVB lighting to metabolize food.
First tortoise in space
The first tortoise in space, and one of the first animals of any kind in deep space was a Russian Tortoise, sent by the Soviet Union (along with wine flies, mealworms and other biological specimens) on a circumlunar voyage from September 14 to September 21, 1968.