Carapace Patterns

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
91,268
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
My turtle and tortoise rescuing days spanned about 40 or 50 years, up until the beginning of 2020 when I decided I'd had enough. Greek tortoises are not common in my neck of the woods so consequently very few of them came through the rescue. And those that did looked very similar to our native desert tortoise - just a different body shape.

So I was very amazed when I joined the Forum and started seeing Greek tortoises with beautiful patterns on their carapaces. Up until then all I had seen were plain grey bodies. Why? What made all my rescued Greek tortoises plain, drab grey and all the Forum's Greek tortoises have tan/brown patterns?

I don't have pictures because this was prior to digital.
 
Joined
Apr 22, 2021
Messages
94
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
My turtle and tortoise rescuing days spanned about 40 or 50 years, up until the beginning of 2020 when I decided I'd had enough. Greek tortoises are not common in my neck of the woods so consequently very few of them came through the rescue. And those that did looked very similar to our native desert tortoise - just a different body shape.

So I was very amazed when I joined the Forum and started seeing Greek tortoises with beautiful patterns on their carapaces. Up until then all I had seen were plain grey bodies. Why? What made all my rescued Greek tortoises plain, drab grey and all the Forum's Greek tortoises have tan/brown patterns?

I don't have pictures because this was prior to digital.
Is it possible that the Greek tortoises most available then were simply a species or subspecies that don't have that much variation? My theory as an inexperienced tortoise person is that you encountered Ibera Greeks, or Asia Minor Tortoise.

I have been doing a great deal of research on the Greek tortoises. Chris Leone says the T. Graeca Ibera are the most encountered Greek tortoise and available en masse. I just purchased some from him. In my research leading up to make my decision most resources I can find show darker leaning Iberas. Most look grey/black to me in photos with minimal color. I would suspect that Greeks being less available and maybe less popular in your area played a part. If only Petco was selling them, they were likely to be the more common torts and not a little known subspecies or locale for lack of a better term.

Also, since Chris is passionate about speaking on proper identification to avoid mixing subspecies or localities of Greeks, I also wonder if misidentification over 40-50 years led to less colorful animals, many being misidentified and crossed with Ibera according to reading on HermanniHaven. It is my understanding from reading on this forum Chris imported some of his animals to avoid mixed torts. People who come to TFO find the best breeders fast, and they may be the only place to find the neat shelled Greeks. Those breeders have species that people who do not venture beyond Petco, Petsmart, their local reptile store or expo would even know existed.
 

rattboy

Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Apr 11, 2008
Messages
58
Location (City and/or State)
San Francisco, CA
There are over 10 subspecies, some believe that a few should be elevated to their own species. Some are quite colorful with bold patterns but we rarely see them in the US. The North African subspecies tend to be some of the more sensitive with very specific care needs. One keeper I spoke to that bought a large group in 2010 had a 10% survival rate.

Another huge challenge is identifying where a particular tortoise is from. It is not always straight forward which can make the husbandry of a sensitive subspecies all the more challenging.

A North African Female Graeca - possibly Nabeulensis
 

Attachments

  • 923E823F-DD2D-4D30-A11A-EE8051E7EB23.jpeg
    923E823F-DD2D-4D30-A11A-EE8051E7EB23.jpeg
    397.5 KB · Views: 10

New Posts

Top