Greek Tortoise - Characteristics, Diet, Conservation and Habitat

Greek tortoise: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. Within the Testudines, we find the Greek Tortoise, of the genus Testudo....

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Within the Testudines, we find the Greek tortoise, of the genus Testudo. There are 7 other tortoises in this genus, for a total of 8, some of which are Horsfield's tortoise or Hermann's tortoise. Something that defines turtles in general is their ability to live over a century, reaching a hundred years with relative ease. Do you want to know all the details about this breed of turtle that lives on 3 different continents? Well, read on to learn about the characteristics, diet, and conservation status of the Greek Tortoise.


  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • Algeria
  • Spain
  • Greece
  • Iran
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Morocco
  • Syria
  • Türkiye

Characteristics of the Greek Tortoise

Greek tortoises or Testudo graeca are medium-sized tortoises. Their proportions fundamentally depend on the environmental conditions in which each individual develops. Moreover, it directly depends on the quality and quantity of food available.

Thus, there are specimens of Greek Tortoise weighing between 500 and 600 grams, the most common weight among turtles found on the Iberian Peninsula. While in Bulgaria it is common for these turtles to grow to sizes 10 times larger, as cases of mature turtles weighing over 7 kilograms have been found.There is marked sexual dimorphism, with females being significantly larger than males.

The carapace of mature turtles is dome-shaped, with yellowish and olive green tones, sometimes a little darker, becoming black. It is made up of plates bordered in black and sometimes also has a central point of this color. Something special about the breed is that they have a supracaudal plate on the dorsal part of the carapace, which unlike other breeds is not split.

The head is yellow with black spots, which differ in size and shape for each turtle. Their eyes resemble those of frogs and toads, being particularly bulging and black in color.

Habitat of the Greek Tortoise

The Greek Tortoise inhabits more than 3 continents, namely: Europe, Asia and Africa. In Africa it is found in the countries of the northern coast, such as Algeria or Morocco, while in Asia it is mainly found in Iran, Syria and Israel.On the European continent, we find Greek tortoises in Greece, Italy, Turkey and various Mediterranean countries as well as along the Black Sea coast.

The country closest to France where this tortoise is found is Spain and there are only 3 recorded populations of this tortoise and, as we will see later, it is an endangered species. danger of extinction. These populations are:

  • Doñana
  • The region of Murcia and Almeria
  • Calvia

Generally speaking, the habitat of the Greek Tortoise is characterized by a Mediterranean ecosystem, with scrub and shrub forests, low rainfall and high temperatures. That is, an arid or at least semi-arid environment.

Reproduction of the Greek Tortoise

Greek Tortoises reach sexual maturity at 8 to 10 years of age, with males reaching maturity earlier. From this age, there are 3-4 broods, between the months of May and June. These clutches are made in holes that the females have previously dug.

As with other turtles, such as the Hermann tortoise, the sex of hatchlings is largely determined by environmental conditions. There is a higher percentage of females when temperatures exceed 31.5 degrees, while if it is cooler, more males will be born. If the temperature is outside the range of 26 to 33 degrees, the embryos will probably not be born or will be born with serious malformations and problems that hinder or prevent proper development.

Greek Tortoise Feeding

Greek Tortoises are primarily herbivorous animals, as their diet is based on the consumption of foods of plant origin. Specifically, they feed on wild plants in their environment, so their diet varies depending on the region and the vegetation found there. Some of the plants that tend to be eaten more frequently are thistles, dandelions, alfalfa or rosemary.

Only in very specific cases can the Greek Tortoise be seen consuming non-plant foods, such as insects or even small dead animals or carrion. This behavior is more common in the case of females.

As with other turtles, such as the Hermann tortoise, the Greek tortoise hibernates. This technique allows them to survive the harsh winter, during which they could not feed themselves due to the lack of plant resources. To hibernate, these turtles prepare a hole about 20 centimeters deep, they also use this type of hole to escape excessive heat.

State of conservation of the Greek tortoise

Currently, the Greek tortoise is in serious danger of extinction. One of the main causes of their near extinction is found in the habit of capturing them in order to adopt them as pets. This plunder is so uncontrolled and excessive that many populations of Greek tortoises have been affected and have declined or even completely disappeared.

To stop this, drastic measures had to be taken. This is why today, owning a Greek Tortoise is forbidden and can be legally sanctioned. You should take this ban seriously, as the pen alties can even go as far as jail time.

Photos of Greek Tortoise

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