Greek Tortoise Care

Greek Tortoise (Testudo graeca), also known as the Spur-thighed Tortoise

Popularity: Make good pets – can be handled regularly.

Origin: the Mediterranean

Native habitat: open forests, grasslands, and deserts

Size: up to 8 inches

Lifespan: up to 50 years

Appearance: Depending on the location of the Greek Tortoise, shell coloring can vary greatly from green spots to a solid golden color. The shell is an oblong-rectangular shape. They have large symmetrical markings on the top of the head. The top shell is undivided over the tail. There are isolated flecks on the spine and rib plates, and, dark central flecks on the underside. The spinal plates are widely stretched, and there are moveable posterior plates on the underside. There are large scales on the front legs and notable spurs on each thigh.

Diet: herbivores



The enclosure should not be an aquarium because it doesn’t provide proper air circulation, but rather an enclosure that has screened sides. It should be at least 2-feet by 4-feet. If you must use an aquarium tank, it should be at least a 40-tank.


Packed soil is the best substrate to use for Greek Tortoises. Other good choices are cage carpet, fine sand, crushed walnut shells, bark, or rabbit pellets. Make sure to provide a type of bedding that maintains a low humidity.


Greek Tortoises like to bask so you should provide them with an area in which they can bask that is about 95 degrees F. The remainder of the habitat should provide a heat gradient with the coolest spot at 75 degrees F. and the warmer area around 90. Nighttime temperature can drop to 65.


There should be a distinct day/night cycle. Use a timer to set day/night periods. Provide 12-14 hours daily of UVB light for vitamin D3 production and calcium absorption. If a heat source is required to maintain correct nighttime temperatures, use heat mats or strips mounted below or on the side of the tank, infrared heat lamps, ceramic heat emitters, or a combination of these to keep the housing dark.


Feed the tortoise grasses and mixed vegetables daily. Good choices are a variety of leafy greens such as collard greens, mustard greens, red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, hibiscus leaves and flowers, green onions, spinach, green beans, zucchini, frozen mixed vegetables, timothy hay, and alfalfa.  Fruits should only make up about 10% of their diet. A shallow water dish should be available at all times.

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