Common Name: Greek Tortoise
Scientific Name: Testudo Graeca Graeca
Current Size: 2.5-3" Range
Average Adult Size: 6-9" (females larger)
Area of Origin: Widespread in the Middle East
Description: Light sandy tan color with brown to black bands around each scute of the shell. They are somewhat of a high domed tortoise, and most Greek tortoises maintain a "glossy" looking shell through life. As babies, these Greek tortoises look very similar to baby Hermanns tortoises, but with generally lighter colored heads than baby Hermanns have.
Habitat: Mediterranean tortoises, these animals live in scrubland and Mediterranean forests where they come and go from their burrows in order to maintain the ideal temperatures. They hibernate naturally, and will hibernate in captivity if proper conditions are given. As adults, they can safely handle body temperatures as low as 35 degrees during hibernation, and in cold spring or fall months, they will retreat underground to maintain some warmth. Summer highs up to 110 degrees can be tolerated as long as there is a cooler, underground retreat the tortoise can get into. In hot climates, they will spend much of the summer days in burrows or simply buried under an inch or two of earth.
Diet: This tortoise is naturally a browser, eating broadleaf weeds and low leaves from bushes and shrubs. In captivity, Greek tortoises will graze on leafy weeds, dandelion, clover, and most other leafy greens provided to them. As babies, we focus more on feeding them a wide mix of leafy greens (spring mix). Vegetables can be added to the diet for variety, but fruit should generally be avoided or given as no more than 5-10% of the diet.
Adult Behavior: Adult Greek tortoises are active, busy tortoises when the temperatures are in their ideal ranges (60-90 degrees). They are un-aggressive towards eachother in most cases, and can be kept in small groups. The mating habits can create some problems and they sometimes will ram at each other to establish dominance through the ranks. Most will eagerly come to their keepers looking for food once they are comfortable in their environments. They can be good climbers and will make attempts to escape, so perimeter fences should be buried at least 6-12" underground, and sidewalls 12-16" above ground will normally contain them.
Our Current Care: During cooler weather or indoors, these tortoises are kept on a cypress substrate kept mostly dry with a humid hidebox that they can get into at night. Temperatures in the room fluctuate between 65 at night up to 85-90 during the day, but we keep the hidebox heated to around 80 at night with a red bulb placed overhead. Diet consists of spring mix on a daily basis, with moistened Mazuri tortoise diet mixed into the spring mix a few times a week. We sprinkle the food lightly with a calcium supplement 3 times a week. The tortoises are removed from their enclosure and soaked in a separate 1/4" deep pan of warm water generally 3 days a week for 30 minutes each time. Being a warmer climate tortoise, they should have good lighting, and they need lights on during the day and off at night to maintain a normal day/night cycle. We use full spectrum UVB lights, which we suggest for the growth of pretty, healthy tortoises, and use spot bulbs in a small part of the enclosure to give them a "hot spot" around 95 degrees that they can get into if they want to warm up.