ISSN 2398-2985  

Marginated tortoise


Vetstream Ltd

Kirsty Dewhurst

Synonym(s): Testudo marginata


Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia.
  • Phylum: Chordata.
  • Class: Reptilia.
  • Order: Testudines.
  • Family: Testudinidae.
  • Genus: Testudo.
  • Species: marginata.

Distribution and habitat

  • Usually ranges in Greece.
  • Also found in the Balkans, Italy and Sardinia.
  • Prefer to live in arid, mountainous regions, more so than the Hermann’s tortoise Hermann's tortoise.
  • Its black carapace is good for survival in this habitat, as it can absorb a lot of heat, helping it to maintain its body temperature.
  • Although they are generally calm, they can be territorial in the wild. They can be housed with other Marginated tortoises if this is from the start of life.

Species status

  • Registered under IUCN as least concern.

Life span

  • Up to 21 years in captivity.
  • Can live up to 100 years.


  • Herbivorous.
  • Diet consists of mainly plants from their native region including shrubs, cacti, grasses, dandelion leaves and weeds Chelonia nutrition.


  • Mating begins straight after hibernation, usually during April to June.
  • In the build-up, the male may bite, ram and encircle the female Chelonia reproduction.
  • During mating, males are vocal.
  • The female then digs a hole in which to lay her eggs.
  • Females lay eggs into soil in June to July.
  • Females will lay around 3-11 eggs per clutch.
  • The incubation period averages at around 100 days.

As pets

  • Manageable for most enthusiasts with a good knowledge of keeping tortoises.
  • They prefer living outdoors as it allows them more space and access to natural light.
  • Should not be fed fruit at all if possible as can cause gastrointestinal upsets.
  • If not fed a proper diet, they may become aggressive and may mistakenly attack if they feel threatened.

Biological Data

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • British Chelonian Group (2018) Care of the Marginated Tortoise. Website: Last accessed 16th July 2018.
  • Reptiles Magazine (2018) Marginated Tortoise. Website: Last accessed 30th January 2018.
  • The Tortoise Shop (2018) The Marginated Tortoise. Website: Last accessed 30th January 2018.
  • Pollock C (2015) Basic Information Sheet: Marginated Tortoise (Testudo marginata). Website: Last accessed 16th July 2018.
  • Tortoise Protecting (2013) Marginated Tortoise. Website: Last accessed 30th January 2018.
  • van Dijk P P, Lymberakis P & Böhme W (2004) Testudo marginata. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Website: Last accessed 17th July 2018.

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