Golden Greek Tortoises
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Beautiful adult Golden Greek, a Mesopotamian tortoise, with peach colored skin.
Golden Greek tortoises
Golden Greeks are one of the newer pet tortoises. They have been offered for sale in the U.S. for over a decade or so. Their beautiful looks and friendly, "outgoing" personalities have made them popular. Captive bred Golden Greek babies and youngsters are available in increasing numbers.
The exact origin and species or subspecies of Golden Greek tortoises, aka Middle Eastern Greeks, has been somewhat of a mystery, but they are thought to be native to the eastern Mediterranean.
Golden Greeks are usually listed as Testudo graeca terrestris or Testudo graeca floweri. Per IUCN-TFTSG checklist, both of these subspecies are currently listed under the first one as Testudo graeca terrestris with the official name Mesopotamian tortoise. Mesopotamia was an ancient region in the eastern Mediterranean.
However, ANY yellowish colored Greek tortoise can be called a Golden Greek tortoise regardless of its subspecies. There is NO official tortoise species, or subspecies, called the Golden Greek tortoise. In captivity, Golden Greeks from various, unknown origins have been bred with each other further blurring the actual species or subspecies of these animals.
The shell color of Greek tortoises is highly influenced by their native habitat and soil they live on. I mean genetic, not dirty or dusty. :O)
Yellow colored Greeks are thought to come from hot, sandy areas of the Middle East and possibly also from northeast Africa. Some Golden Greeks are indeed yellow in color while others are more brown or beige. Some even have an orange or peach tint to them.
Most commonly, Golden Greek tortoises are listed as T.g. terrestris, but they can also be of other Greek tortoise subspecies. For example, Greeks from southern Turkey can be quite yellow in coloring. They have commonly been classified as T.g. ibera or T.g. antakyensis (now included in T.g. terrestris).
- Mesopotamian tortoise
- Testudo graeca terrestris (Forskål, 1775)
Synonyms (IUCN/SCC TFTSG checklist)
- Testudo terrestris
- Testudo floweri (flowerii)
- Testudo graeca anamurensis
- Testudo antakyensis
- Golden Greek tortoise
- Levantine Greek tortoise
- Jordanian Golden Greek
- Lebanese Golden Greek
- Syrian Golden Greek
- Middle Eastern Greek
T.g. terrestris vs T.g. floweri
Even though T. [graeca] floweri is now listed as a synonym for T. graeca terrestris per IUCN/SCC TFTSG checklist (1), there are said to be differences between the two.
T.g. floweri is described as being smaller, flatter, and more yellow than T.g. terrestris. It has a yellow head and a dark spot on the tail. The dark markings on the shell are crisp. Care for both is the same. (2)
- Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey
- Egypt? (northeast Africa)
Baby Golden Greek, a Mesopotamian tortoise. Just perfect!
Golden Greek tortoise hatchlings. In addition to the lovely coloring, they have the prettiest little faces with cute noses. :O)
Color & pattern
- named after their beautiful yellow brown color
- shell color can be light brownish, yellowish, or orangish / peachish
- some have almost no dark markings on their shells, some have only center dots on scutes (domino dots), and others have more traditional looking dark Greek markings
- skin color can be brownish, yellowish, or peachish
- some T.g. terrestris have dark shells due to the dark soil of their native area (genetic, not dirty :O)
- hot, dry, sandy areas
- habitat similar to that of the Egyptian tortoise
- less than 10" adult size
- many only grow to 6"-7"
Male vs female
- females can grow twice as big as males
- adult females have flat plastrons, males slightly concave ones
- adult males have noticeably longer tails
- can be quite active
- good climbers and diggers
- personable, social, active, outgoing
- fun and entertaining pet tortoises
- IUCN / SCC TFTSG - International Union for Conservation of Nature / Species Survival Commission, Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, Turtles of the World, Checklist (1)
- World Chelonian Trust - What exactly is a Golden Greek? by Darrell Senneke & Torston Blanck, 2003 (2)