ISSN 2398-2985  

Spur-thighed tortoise


Vetstream Ltd

Kirsty Dewhurst

Synonym(s): Testudo graeca, Greek tortoise


Scientific Classification

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

Distribution and habitat

  • The spur-thighed tortoise’s main habitats are north Africa, southern Europe and southwest Asia.
  • The spur-thighed tortoise is a hibernating species. 

Species status

  • Listed under IUCN as vulnerable. 

Life span

  • 125 years upwards. 
  • It has previously been recorded for specimens to live for up to 200 years. 


  • Herbivorous. 
  • In the wild, they eat a large range of different plants, depending on their locality Chelonia nutrition
  • In captivity, good foods include dandelion, clover, leafy greens, watercress and rocket.
  • Regular dusting of calcium powder on food is recommended. 
  • Should be fed other vegetables and very small and occasional amounts of fruit. 


  • Mating begins straight after hibernation Chelonia reproduction
  • Breeding season is around May/June.
  • The male will approach the female and begin to encircle, bite and ram them. 
  • During mating, males are vocal. 
  • One successful mating will allow the female to lay eggs multiple times. 
  • In captivity, pairs of males and females must be kept separate. 
  • 1 or 2 days before egg-laying, the females will display behavior similar to the male when mating. She will mount and vocalize to gain respect from other tortoises and ensure her eggs will be safe when laid Chelonia behavior problems
  • Clutch sizes of around 2-10 eggs.

As pets

  • Commonly traded as pets. 
  • In warm months, outdoor areas should be provided. 

Biological Data

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Wikipedia (2018) Spur-Thighed Tortoise. Website: Last accessed 30th January 2018. 
  • The Spruce (2017) Greek Tortoises and Spur-Thighed Tortoises. Website: Last accessed 30th January 2018. 
  • Pet Info Club (2015) Mediterranean Spur-Thighed Tortoise. Website: Last accessed 30th January 2018. 
  • Pollock C (2015) Basic Information Sheet. Greek or Spur-Thighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca complex). Website: Last accessed 24th July 2018.
  • Chitty J & Raftery A (2013) Natural History. In: Essentials of Tortoise Medicine and Surgery. Wiley Blackwell, UK. pp 9.
  • Tortoise Protection (2013) Ibera Tortoise. Website: Last accessed 30th January 2018. 
  • Marschang R & Chitty J (2004) Infectious disease. In: Manual of Reptiles. 2nd edn. Eds: Girling S & Raiti P. BSAVA, UK. pp 331.
  • Tortoise & Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (1996) Testudo graeca. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Website: Last accessed on 26 July 2018.
  • Encyclopedia of Life. Testudo graeca - Details Mediterranean Spur-thighed Tortoise. Website: Last accessed 24th July 2018.

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