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Golden Greek Tortoise

Golden Greek Tortoise

Diet

Greek tortoises primarily live off of plant food. Tortoises are completely herbivorous animals and shouldn’t be given animal products at all, such as meat and dairy. That being said, giving Greek tortoises a cuttlebone to bite on will help with their calcium intake needed in order to keep themselves strong and healthy. Almost every animal enjoys a variety of different food, since differing plants are going to provide many chemicals and nutrients needed for optimal health. However, Greek tortoises only eat a narrow range of foods, so that variety has to be be found within a relatively small category.

  • Feed Daily/Salad mix – Cactus pad/leaf (prickly pear), Cactus pear (prickly pear), Alfalfa (plants), Collard greens, Dandelion greens, Endive, Escarole, Mustard Greens, Squash (acorn, butternut, Hubbard, scallop, spaghetti, summer), and Turnip greens.
  • Feed Occasionally – Alfalfa sprouts, Apples, Apricots (fresh), Beans (garbanzo, green, kidney, lima, pinto), Bell peppers, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cabbage (red), Cantaloupe, Carrots (raw), Celery, Cherries (no pit), Cilantro, Clover, Cranberries (fresh), Cucumbers, Grape leaves, Grapefruit, Grapes, Honeydew melons, Nectarines, Oranges, Pea sprouts, Peaches, Pears, Pineapple, Prunes, Pumpkin (raw), Radish, Raisins, Kelp, Strawberries, Watermelon, Wheat grass (pet grass), and Yams (raw).
  • Feed Rarely – Banana, Soybeans, Beet greens, Beets, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Corn, Egg (whole, hard boiled), Kiwi, Lettuce (red leaf, romaine), Olives (canned, pitted), Parsley, Peas, Pomegranate, Potato, Raspberries, Rice, Rutabaga, Brussels sprouts, Starfruit, Swiss chard, Tomato.
  • Do NOT feed – Meat, Insects, Bran, Bread, Cheerios, Chives, Eggplant, Garlic, Lettuce (loose leaf, iceberg), Mushrooms, Onion, Pasta, Spinach*, or Yogurt.

Summary Information

Adult Size: Maximum adult shell length of 7 inches for T. floweri and 11 inches for T. terrestris.

Captive Lifespan: ~100 years

Nighttime Air Temperature:  60-65FF

Daytime Air Temperature:  70F-90F

Sun Basking Temperature:  90F-95F

Humidity:  20-50%

Golden Greek Hatchlings

Original Habitat

Several species have been called “Greek” Tortoises, however none actually originated from Greece. The most common species seen in the pet trade are Testudo terrestris and Testudo floweri, with T. terrestris being the most common of the two. The natural range of T. terrestris is Northern Iraq to Syria and Turkey. Whereas T. floweri has a far more limited natural range, found only along a narrow strip of land along the shores of Israel and Lebanon. Both species are found in moderate to hot arid climates and both may remain active late into the winter, aestivating partially submerged into shallow pits or burrows under-ground, retreating for brumation only during the coldest times of the year.

Recommended Pet Enclosure

Many pet owners are going to want to keep their Greek tortoises indoors, but Greek tortoises should ideally be housed outside. Keeping animals like cats outdoors can be harmful, but Greek tortoises kept in safe outdoor enclosures will be at their happiest and healthiest. A pen that is six feet long and four feet wide will usually suffice for the majority of adult Greek tortoises that are kept indoors or outdoors, although a bigger enclosure will still be better. Greek tortoises can thrive with a range of different substrates. Cypress mulch will work for them, as will a combination of play sand and topsoil. Aspen shavings can also serve as effective substrates. The main thing is to avoid pine bedding or anything containing cedar ingredients, which will only prove to be damaging to Greek tortoises.

If possible, a safe and secure outdoor habitat with plenty of sun is preferred, and it should be planted with a variety of plants.  A southern exposure for basking, and bushes and rocks for hiding will be greatly appreciated.  If an indoor habitat is used, it should mimic an outdoor one as much as possible.

For a hatchling’s indoor enclosure, a large plastic-bin container filled with a mixture of organic soil, orchid bark, and play sand makes a nice habitat.  Form some hills in the dirt, put in a few rocks, and place a seed tray in one corner to grow some sedum, weeds, and wildflowers. The hills are recommended to help teach your hatchling to climb and use it’s newborn muscles. You can also accommodate an adult in a similar, but larger, rubbermaid container.  Indoor enclosures need to have UVB light from a bulb, such as a Reptisun 5.0. You will also need a heat lamp for a basking area and a hide box for some privacy.  Mercury-vapor lamps, which supply heat and UVB, are good as long as the enclosure offers a warm end and a cooler end. Adults and even babies should be outdoors, but the enclosure needs to be safe from predators, including birds.  For an adult, about 6’x4′ should be enough, but the bigger the better.

Other Information

Pet owners can seek out many different sources in order to find care sheets for their pet tortoises, including their Greek tortoises. Many veterinarians should offer these sorts of care sheets. Some tortoise owners do not consult the services of veterinarians, but they need veterinary medicine as much as all other pets. Veterinarians can give owners accurate care sheets, which is important given the amount of inaccurate information related to tortoises in cyberspace today. Many tortoise owners can recommend reliable care sheets to one another, which will help strengthen the community of tortoise owners.

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