Greek tortoise: who is she? How to raise it?


In the wild, the Greek tortoise evolves in an environment laughed at. To thrive in our regions, it must benefit from an environment closest to its natural habitat. Close-up on this land turtle mediterranean and its breeding conditions.

Presentation of the Greek turtle

The Greek turtle (testudo graeca) or turtle Moorish is native to the Mediterranean regions of southern Europe, the borders of the Black Sea and North Africa. This black-headed land turtle occupies dry and warm territories, low vegetation, like the maquis. Its large shell has an olive to beige, even dark yellow tone and is adorned with intense black marks. Its coloring is however more or less dark from one individual to another. The Greek tortoise stands out for its lug, a sort of horny spur on the back thighs, and by its simple supracaudal scale, which is not divided in two. the chestplate of the male measures 20 cm on average and that of the female, larger, can reach 30 cm.

Greek tortoise: the regulations

According to CITES (Washington Convention), dozens of millions Greek turtles were taken from their natural environment in the 1970s / 1980s to be sold in pet stores, markets and other fairs. In view of its rarity, the animal now benefits from a protection increased at national, European and international level. Its capture and import are strictly forbidden in order to preserve its conservation status. Nevertheless land turtles born and high in captivity are authorized for sale and detention. You will find below our advice for its breeding.

The enclosure of the Greek turtle

When the weather is good, the Greek turtle can stay outside, in a large enclosed space, offering it the conditions essential to their well-being:

  • The dimensions. It should be borne in mind that the Greek tortoise is a wild animal whose natural habitat has no boundaries. For this reason, the enclosure should be the most big possible: 2 m long is a minimum to respect and it will be necessary to multiply the surface by the number of individuals;
  • The fences. It is recommended to install them at least 30 cm high and 15 cm deep. To avoid an escape, opt for a fence in hard (wood or stone) because land turtles are likely to escape by digging the ground. If it is about wire mesh, return to prevent any risk of leakage;
  • A mesh roof. Covering the enclosure is necessary to protect a young land turtle from birds predators (mainly corvids). Keep this protection until the animal reaches 10 cm of plastron;
  • The location. UV rays allow the synthesis of vitamin D, essential for fixing calcium on the turtle’s skeleton, promoting its growth and solidifying its shell. The park will therefore be located in the most sunny of the garden during the day, away from drafts and the shade of a tree.
  • Shelters. The turtle needs shelters during the night, during hot weather or simply to rest in peace. Its hiding places can take the form of a wooden or stone cabin, burrows, shrubs and rocky crevices;
  • Ground. The enclosure should have a grass-free area on which the turtle will lie down to enjoy the sun and heat. It is also necessary to provide a feeding zone where several kinds of plants grow which the animal loves such as the dandelion (very rich in calcium), clover, sow thistle or mallow;
  • A water source. Generally, the turtle hydrates itself with its food, but it is still necessary to satisfy its thirst. The ideal is to arrange a small Bowl allowing him to quench his thirst and bathe. This must have easy access and shallow depth to avoid any risk of drowning. A cup may also be suitable. As turtles tend to defecate and urinate in them, regular water renewal is imperative.

The Greek tortoise terrarium

The use of a terrarium is essential for very youth turtles which remain fragile and for adults in the event of a bad weather prolonged or drop in outdoor temperatures.

  • The size. Like the enclosure, the terrarium must also be vast as possible. It must be at least 1 m long, 50 cm deep and high;
  • The model. Although more expensive, a closed terrarium glass with sliding side opening is preferred. This type of model is easier to maintain and better retains the heat ;
  • The luminosity. To replace the sun’s radiation, the terrarium must be equipped with a UVB lamp, placed indoors and left on for about 10 to 12 hours a day. The ideal temperature is between 25 and 30 ° C;
  • The substrate. The Earth is preferable to wood chips to meet the turtle’s need to bury itself to regain humidity and darkness (allow a thickness of at least 10 cm). You can sprinkle the ground with a few stones flat to maintain adequate humidity;
  • The layout. Like the enclosure, the terrarium must provide hiding places, a water point (container), branches, rocks and plants.

Greek turtle food

Like other Mediterranean land turtle species, the Greek turtle adopts a predominantly herbivorous. As such, it feeds on plants such as dandelion, clover, sedum, nettle, alfalfa, watercress, bindweed, daisy, lamb’s lettuce, plantain or even hay. The reptile also eats some flowers fresh (evening primrose, althea, bignone, buttercup, etc.) and vegetables (or their leaves): lettuce (romaine, iceberg, Boston), broccoli, endives, cucumbers and carrots (cut into thin slices), radish tops, cabbage leaves, zucchini flowers, etc. fruits can complete its menu but, rich in sugar, they will be distributed with parsimony : strawberries, raspberries, figs, blackberries or cherries.