Greek Tortoise

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Species group:

Other common names: Spur-thighed Tortoise; Mediterranean Spur-thighed Tortoise; Turkish Tortoise; Ibera Greek Tortoise; Ibera Tortoise

Scientific name: Testudo Graeca ibera

The basics:
Although all tortoises are somewhat delicate in captivity, this personable pet-trade staple is a good choice for those with suitable experience and space. It is very important to purchase only captive-born animals as wild-caught individuals, which still appear in the trade, are often in poor health.

The Greek Tortoise has an enormous range, being found on many Aegean islands, in southern Spain and northern Africa, and from Greece and Turkey to Israel. It has been introduced to Sicily, Italy and Sardinia.

Favored habitats include open forests, overgrown meadows, arid thorn scrub, rocky hillsides, and the margins of pastures and agricultural land.

Appearance / health:
The domed carapace may be yellow, tan, gray, or black in color, and bears dark blotches. Adults measure 20-40 cm (8-16 in) in length.

Well-cared-for Greek Tortoises take very well to captivity, with captive longevities approaching 50 years. Metabolic bone disease is common in animals that are not provided with ample calcium and/or UVB exposure. The lack of a moist retreat may cause irregular shell formation. Fiber-poor diets lead to digestive disorders, and a diet rich in fruit will cause colic-like ailments.

Behavior / temperament:
Greek Tortoises become very trusting and responsive, and quickly learn to “beg’ for food when their owners appear. They are alert and aware of their surroundings, and feed readily from the hand. Like most turtles, they dislike being handled and carried about.

Adults do best in custom-made enclosures measuring at least 1.5 x 1.5 meters (5 x 5 feet), but preferably larger; outdoor maintenance is ideal. Drinking water should be available, and they should also be soaked in a tub of shallow water for 15-20 minutes, 1-2x weekly. A mix of sand and soil works well as a substrate; it should be of a depth that allows the tortoise to create a shallow depression for night-time use.

Exposure to UVB light is essential. Temperatures should range from 80-85 F, with a basking site of 95 F. Provide your pet with the largest home possible, so that a thermal gradient (areas of different temperatures) can be established.

Greek Tortoises feed almost exclusively on grasses, herbaceous plants and flowers. In the warmer months, native grasses and flowers, such as dandelion, clover, and bramble, can provide the bulk of your pet’s diet. The balance of should include kale, endive, mustard/collard greens and other produce. Avoid spinach, cabbages, iceberg lettuce, fruit and dog/cat food. Small amounts of yam and carrot can be provided once weekly. Commercial grassland tortoise diets may be added to your pet’s salad, but should not be used as a mainstay.

Most meals provided to growing animals should be powdered with a calcium source. Vitamin/mineral supplements should be used 2-3 times each week. Both can be reduced to once weekly for well-nourished adults. A cuttlebone may be left in the terrarium for “as needed” use.

Males may be distinguished from females by their longer, thicker tails. Breeding may occur without the need for temperature manipulation, although a hibernation period of 2-3 months at 42-45 F has also proven effective. Pairs must be watched closely, as males may injure non-receptive females.

Gravid (egg-bearing) females usually become restless. If the home enclosure is not suitable for nesting, they should be removed to a large container (i.e. 5x the length and width of the turtle) provisioned with slightly moist soil and sand. Gravid females that do not nest should be seen by a veterinarian as egg retention invariably leads to a fatal infection (egg peritonitis). The 3-15 eggs may be incubated in a mix of 1 part vermiculite to 1 part water (by weight) at 84-90 F for 60-90 days.

Written by Frank Indiviglio


favorite tortoise, great intermediate tortoise, impressive appearance, peaceful animal, calming effect


big commitment, real specific diet, vitamin supplements, long life span


red fruits, tortoise table, dark greens, brassy sexual life

Greek Tortoise Behavior Tip

Greek Tortoise

From KriKri Aug 30 2016 5:56AM


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