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Greek Tortoise Recognition

Discussion in 'Greek tortoises' started by HermanniChris, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. HermanniChris

    HermanniChris Well-Known Member TFO Sponsor 10 Year Member!

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    Greek Tortoise Recognition

    Chris Leone

    The following is a photo essay to brief the reader about recognizing subspecies or "types" of Greek tortoise (Testudo graeca). It is crucial to keep in mind that variation persists throughout the entire Testudo graeca species complex and that the included images are simply what is typical for each type. There is a severe amount of confusion surrounding this popular tortoise group when it comes to proper identification and the Americanized inaccurate names given to several of them only add to it. Titles such as "Golden Greek", "Black Greek" and others are invalid and hold no truth in how to accurately recognize Greek tortoise subspecies. One way to understand this is by taking into account that both all-black and all-gold colored specimens can be found in a number of subspecies within the T. graeca complex.

    For additional information pertaining to Greek tortoises, Hermann's tortoises, Egyptian tortoises and Marginated tortoises, please visit the newly updated (and still under construction) HermanniHaven.com

    The following photos are of animals in our collection at Garden State Tortoise/Hermanni Haven. They are actual examples of each given subspecies as they occur in nature.

    Latin Name: Testudo graeca ibera
    Americanized Common name: "Ibera Greek"
    Valid Common Name: Asia Minor tortoise
    Notes: The most widespread and encountered Greek tortoise subspecies both in nature and captivity. Size and coloration varies incredibly with some specimens surpassing 11". Robust, hardy, aggressive and extremely cold tolerant.
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    Latin Name: Testudo graeca terrestris
    Americanized Common name: "Golden Greek"
    Valid Common Name: Mesopotamian tortoise
    Notes: A commonly encountered subspecies in American collections and inaccurately dubbed the "Golden Greek". Dark and all-black specimens occur within this wide-ranged tortoise. This taxon is under severe debate because it simply covers far too vast of an area where these animals naturally exist. Further examination is needed in order to realistically understand the Greek tortoises occurring in this proposed subspecie's range. Most likely, there is more than one subspecies living within this distribution. This is a sensitive subspecies that cannot tolerate wet conditions. Runny nose syndrome commonly associated with mycoplasma are often exhibited by wild collected adults. They are capable of handling cooler temperatures as long as they remain dry. Captive bred neonates seem to do quite well under captive conditions and do adapt. These tortoises typically reach carapace lengths of 5" for males and 7" for females respectively.
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    Latin Name: Testudo graeca marokkensis
    Americanized Common name: "Moroccan Greek"
    Valid Common Name: Morocco tortoise
    Notes: A recently discovered North African subspecies. They have only entered the United States pet trade a few times in recent years but sadly most perished within the first year. This was due to heavy parasitic loads and insufficient care. This is a dry-dwelling tortoise which does appreciate vegetation cover. They do tolerate cold if kept dry. Robust and charming when housed appropriately. Quite prolific once dialed in and following an annual cycle.
    Adults vary between 500 and 700 grams for males and around 900 grams for females. Beautiful blotches or radiating rays of black may accompany a horn colored ground color on both the carapace and plastron. Darker and lighter animals exist.

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    Latin Name: Testudo graeca nabeulensis
    Americanized Common name: "Tunisian Greek"
    Valid Common Name: Nabeul tortoise
    Notes: By far the smallest of the Testudo graeca species complex with adult males rarely surpassing 4.5" and females reaching 5-5.5". Overall, this subspecies is alongside the Egyptian tortoise and certain forms of the western Hermann's tortoise as the smallest of all tortoises found in the genus Testudo. They were once accepted as a full species being dubbed Furculachelys nabeulensis but are now included in the Greek tortoise grouping. Heavy black pigment accompanies a yellow to almost white ground color on the carapace and plastron. They are petite and delicate even as captive bred individuals. Never heavily imported into the USA, the few founder animals are associated with being illegally smuggled or mixed into importations of Libyan tortoises in the late 1990s and early 2000s. They require desert-like habitats and must be able to escape rainfall if it persists. Care is basically the same as is for the more common Egyptian tortoise.
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    Latin Name: Testudo graeca cyrenaica
    Americanized Common name: "Libyan Greek"
    Valid Common Name: Cyrenaican Spur-thighed tortoise
    Notes: This highly attractive subspecies was notably imported in fairly large numbers into the United States in the late 1990s and 2000s. Like Morocco tortoises, few survived long term because many keepers attempted to house them in conditions similar to Testudo graeca ibera. The two subspecies are actually nothing alike and because of the untimely deaths countless Cyrenaican Spur-thighed tortoises met, they are now a rarity in American collections. Another dry-dwelling subspecies, care must be taken to keep them out of overly humid or wet situations. They are marked by a yellow ground colored littered with black dalmatian-like spotting all over the carapace. The shell is oblong with some flaring of the marginal scutes giving way to "skirt-like" appearance at times. Males may reach 6-6.5" and females may surpass 7.5" respectively.
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    Latin Name: Testudo graeca anamurensis
    Americanized Common name: "Anamurensis Greek"
    Valid Common Name: Anamur tortoise
    Notes: This subspecies has recently been demoted to a geographical variant of the Asia Minor tortoise which is really an unfortunate move. They are easily differentiated from all other Greek tortoises by taking a clear look at the shell morphology. This tortoise is often confused with the Marginated tortoise (Testudo marginata) because of the conspicuous flaring of the rear marginal scutes on both sexes. Shell coloration may be entirely black or may be yellowish with black mottling. They are a larger subspecies reaching sizes more comparable to T. g. ibera. Like Asia Minor tortoises, they are robust and hardy, able to withstand a variety of weather conditions.
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    Latin Name: Testudo graeca buxtoni
    Americanized Common name: "Zagros Mountain Greek"
    Valid Common Name: Buxton's tortoise
    Notes: This subspecies has unfortunately come into the pet trade alongside other subspecies of Greek tortoise including T. g. terrestris and T. g. ibera. Because they are not an easily recognizable type, they were inevitably mixed with one or both of these and forced to cross-breed. They are a cold tolerant, robust tortoise reaching considerable sizes of 6-9" and exhibit an attractive array of browns, tans, grays and black. Skin coloration is dark like the Asia Minor tortoise and the carapace exhibits a noticeable arch.
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    Latin Name: Testudo graeca graeca
    Americanized Common name: "Greek Tortoise"
    Valid Common Name: Mediterranean Spur-thighed or Moorish tortoise
    Notes:This is the nominate form of Testudo graeca and despite the fact that the name "Greek tortoise" is thrown around in the global hobby, they are actually quite rare in American collections at least. They are highly sensitive and although cold tolerant, they need dry conditions. The shell is often an orangish to tan ground color with a series of irregular black markings on each scute. There are variations throughout local forms of this tortoise. In areas where they are believed to have been introduced like Spain and Sardinia, they are very brightly colored. In Morocco, they are often confused with Testudo graeca marokkensis. Adults are smallish with males reaching 4.5-6" and females reaching 6 to 7.5", respectively. In Algeria, this tortoise grows to large proportions much like T. g. ibera and is more elongate. This form was originally described as Testudo graeca whitei.
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    Please visit HermanniHaven.com for any and all information concerning the tortoises of the genus Testudo.​
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
  2. shellfreak

    shellfreak Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Wow. Great thread. Great information.
    mark1258 likes this.
  3. CalifornianReptile

    CalifornianReptile Member

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  4. mlongmire

    mlongmire New Member

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    I just purchased a golden greek hatchling. I did my research before I bought him and found a lot of contradictory information or so it seems to me anyway. So I would like advice from anyone who actually have experience with his breed. I am new to tortoises but do own other reptiles. My setup is like this, 20 gallon long tank (only temporary) Temp. 95+ on basking end UVB bulb and heat emitter, 80ish inside the tank he has a hide on the cooler end the temp drops at night to the low 80's high 70's I use a heat gun and thermometers to measure, Substrate sphagnum/peat moss for moisture with a layer of reptibark.. Food: mixed greens, softened Mazuri tortoise pellets sprinkled with calcium.
    He is eating but here are my questions. I mist his tank everyday should I soak him everyday or what? Should I supplement with calcium every day? Am I missing some other supplements I need? He is still a little shy and timid and he sleeps a lot is this normal for a baby? I am using saucers for food and water buried to be level with the substrate but I think he is having trouble getting in and out I have looked online and in pet stores with no luck any one know where and what to buy? Most of you out there have a lot more experience than I do I value your opinions. Any other advice would also be welcome. Sorry to be so long winded
  5. Dallas

    Dallas New Member

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    Is this a Greek Tortoise?

    Not the best photos, sorry. I posted another thread about this earlier (thanks to whoever replied). I’ll take some more photos if required.

    Thanks. Peace.

    Attached Files:

  6. VeeM

    VeeM New Member

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    Is this a buxtoni? Please help!

    Attached Files:

  7. Salspi

    Salspi Active Member

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    Nice thread Chris!
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