Species group: Tortoises
Other common names: Spur-thighed Tortoise; Mediterranean Spur-thighed Tortoise; Turkish Tortoise; Ibera Greek Tortoise; Ibera Tortoise
Scientific name: Testudo Graeca ibera
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
Many years ago my younger brother brought home a tortoise, Testudo Craeca, I think it is, which he found in the little grove, not very far from our house. The tortoise had dark brown shell, scratched at many places and with chopped off edge, which indicated its age and pugnacious character. We did not know if it was a male or female and we did not plan to keep it… maybe for a while, until we figure out what to do with it. However, as it is well known, there is nothing more permanent than something that was temporary. Days flew and now and then one of us would start on conversation of what to do with the animal: get it back to the wild or may be try to “donate” it to the local zoo, which probably would also let it go as the tortoise was not of rear species. My mom, who is very tender-hearted woman, refused to “through it away” as she said and regardless of the resistance of the rest of the family she kept taking care of it, - feeding, washing after the tortoise and talking to it whenever she saw it. The first spring of Cherry, this is how my mom named it, revealed its gender. It appeared to be a male, which was literally running around the yard in vain hopes to find a partner. Partner never appeared and over years that Cherry leaves with my mom, he got used to manage without it. He sleeps winters under one of the cupboards and wakes up early spring to have his first meal and set up summer daily routine of walking the yard. When my mom calls for him, he runs across the yard to be fed and cherished by mom. He sticks his head far from the shell and lets mom to fondle him for as long as she can. Cherry loves fruit and vegetable, especially strawberries and cucumbers, but his favourite food is… cheese, which he adores and shamelessly stills from mom’s cats, should they be lucky enough to have some. Cheesy Cherry, - sound weird for those who do not know what it is about, isn’t it?.
From KriKri Aug 30 2016 5:56AM