The Greek tortoise – More demanding than you expect

The Greek tortoise (Testudo hermanni), a rather smaller tortoise about 20 centimetres in length, lives across the Mediterranean region, despite its perhaps misleading name.

Therefore, the homeland of the Greek tortoises extends from Spain through southern France to the former Yugoslavia. Testudo hermanni also feels “right at home” in Turkey and on numerous Mediterranean islands.

The animals like warmth and dryness, but they avoid the midday heat and peaks above 40 degrees and then retreat into caves or bury themselves underground.

Greek tortoises: made for the outdoors

The Greek tortoise is introduced particularly frequently among all tortoises: “If possible, keep them in the open-air terrarium or on the balcony, as long as the weather permits!” the Albrecht Philler Verlag, a real classic of its genre.

In fact, many Greek tortoises are kept this way to this day.

Or running freely in the room, which has already been criticized by the terrarium specialist and author Johannes Jahn: “The room air is too dry for you in the long run.

That is why they (the Greek tortoise) should be looked after at least for an hour in a large terrarium with air that is not too dry when the weather is cool and not let around the room all day. ”

Never buy turtles and other reptiles rashly

In fact, keeping reptiles is often “sinned”. The supposedly undemanding Greek tortoise also seems to encourage “animal lovers”, who otherwise have little to do with a terrarium and its inhabitants, to buy it.

General online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia already draw attention to the fact that some things have to be taken into account when keeping the Greek tortoise: you need a large, full-sun outdoor enclosure in the garden with a few shady spots under bushes and free access to a heatable cold frame/greenhouse for cold nights or periods of bad weather. ”

In fact, additional heat sources are indispensable for the Greek tortoise, especially when kept free-range.

It is the optimum for tortoises for many experts and is preferable to any terrarium, no matter how large.

Small bushes give the area a pleasing appearance and provide the first hiding places.

Hobby cork tubes come into consideration for further decoration and as an additional retreat.

Because they have grown naturally and are real eye-catchers in every terrarium, free-range or cage (also ideal for rabbits or rats).

Also, thanks to their natural wood preservatives, they are largely protected from mould and rotting.

So ideal for a turtle enclosure.

Greek tortoises: From friends and foes

Of course, we have to ensure that our Greek tortoises are not attacked by rats, foxes, martens or free-range cats when keeping them free-range.

The often intrusive corvids are, of course, not welcome guests in such open enclosures for tortoises.

However, Greek tortoises quickly become trusting towards the keeper and take the food out of their hands, which is clearly a lot of fun for children and visitors (who tend to be scared of snakes and other reptiles).

Perfect for the turtle: Mixed food with excess plants

In addition to dandelion, clover and other herbs, Johannes Jahn also recommended ground beef, which the animals actually eat with preference.

This can be sprinkled with a vitamin powder, such as the Hobby Reptix Vital vitamin powder, suitable for omnivorous and carnivorous reptiles.

However, we must never forget that the majority of the Greek tortoises are vegetarian.

Therefore, your main feed should consist of wild herbs and plants such as plantain and daisies, as they already occur in many places in the open air.

Shepherd’s purse, strawberry leaves and nasturtiums can also be served.

Beware of poisonous plants such as ivy and yew. Even fresh fruit, although crammed down, can lead to diarrhoea.

You are on the safe side with Herpetal Heucobs, the fresh food pellets for all tortoises and green fodder-loving reptiles, which have an ideal calcium-phosphorus ratio and are produced without flavourings or preservatives.

If a stable drinking bowl with freshwater is still available, our Greek tortoise should feel comfortable with us for a long time.

Greek tortoises and their hibernation

Even the “Little Terrarium Science” describes the Greek tortoise’s hibernation, which is only considered for healthy animals.

This requires a place that is frost-free but around 6 degrees cool.

A mouse- and rat-proof basement room comes into consideration here. At the same time, other keepers let their tortoises hibernate outdoors and use insulating material and heating to maintain the above-mentioned temperature.

Greek tortoise: attitude & useful information in brief

Occurrence: Mediterranean area with the two subspecies Testudo hermanni and Testudo hermanni boettgeri

Size and appearance: Rather smaller tortoise around 20 centimetres in length;

Carapace yellow to olive with dark spots; Head and legs yellow to brown in colour, claws on fore and hind limbs

Nutrition and husbandry: Best outdoors, therefore less suitable for terrariums and high-rise areas; Mainly vegetarian feed with animal-based foods

Socialization: Sociable animals, but a female surplus is recommended so that the often stormy and aggressive approaches of the male are distributed among several partners and thus a little defused

Winter rest: yes

Protection Status: EU Appendix A, WA Appendix II. Obligation to report and keep records.

Certificate, including picture required – animals must be clearly identifiable.

Update the image of the turtle regularly.

Guide values ​​for keeping Greek tortoises

Temperature: The turtles’ ideal air temperature is between 25 and 28 ° C. Local heat islands up to a maximum of 40 ° C are recommended.

Spotlights are well suited for this.

Night setback necessary – night temperature should correspond to room temperature.

Terrarium thermostat recommended for precise temperature control.

Humidity: Greek tortoises feel most comfortable at a humidity of 50 – 70%.

Lighting: Tortoises need a lot of daylight. Good T5 daylight tubes or correspondingly strong daylight lamps are suitable. Additional UV lamps are essential – Greek tortoises need UV-B radiation.

Tip: Lucky Reptile Bright Sun UV Desert

Substrate: Substrate for Greek tortoises must be loose and very absorbent.

Mixtures of terrarium hummus, coconut fibres and pieces of bark are particularly suitable.

Furniture: large stones, roots, large, flat water bowl and a terrarium cave as a shelter.

Always keep a defined part of the terrarium floor moist.

Terrarium size: If you want to keep your Greek tortoises permanently in the terrarium, the terrarium must be generously dimensioned.

Partial free-range husbandry is highly recommended.

The absolute minimum floor area of ​​the terrarium for Greek tortoises: 8 x 4, the length of the tortoiseshell.

Preferably much more.