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Golden Greek Tortoises

- personality & behavior -

Golden Greek, aka Mesopotamian tortoise 13 days old

Hatchling Golden / Mesopotamian Greek tortoise (Testudo graeca terrestris). Just perfect!

Delightful characters

My Golden / Mesopotamian Greek tortoises (Testudo graeca terrestris) are not actually golden yellow but more of a yellow-beige or beige color. Some are quite dark as well. They aren't as "fancy" or "pretty" looking as my Burmese Stars and Angulates, but they have captured my heart with their antics.

Among the tortoises I keep, my Golden Greeks consistently have some of the best personalities. Even as hatchlings, they are active and spunky.

I keep my Goldens, both young and adults, in groups based on their ages / sizes and they seem to get along quite well. I have not witnessed too much competitive behavior, not even among the males. However, I have had to reduce the number of males in my groups because they are "lady chasers." Spring is the most unruly time; that's when males get very amorous and pursue females rather persistently.

Goldens vs Burmese Stars

During their active periods, my Golden Greeks are equally or more active than my Burmese Stars. With my Burmese Stars it's a bit of hit and miss with their personality. I have a few boys that are very relaxed and not timid at all, but I also have others that spend most of their time hiding in the bushes. I separate my Burmese Stars into groups based on their age, size, and gender, but even then some of them stay shy and rarely venture on any excursions.

I purchased all my Burmese Star tortoise foundation group animals as tiny hatchlings (20g+) and then raised them up to productive adults. My most active Burma boys I was able to hand pick as hatchlings. The others I purchased without seeing them in person. I chose my handpicked ones based on their spunkiness level, not based on their looks, and they are indeed my most fearless Burmese. I've raised all my Burmese Stars in similar manner, so I'm guessing my bold Burma boys' personalities are at least partly genetic.

Goldens vs Angulates

My adult Angulate tortoises are actually quite laid back and easy going, except the male who at times can be a nuisance to the female. They aren't super shy or secretive. My Angulate babies can be either way, some are shy and some are more outgoing.

 

Golden Greek tortoise hatchlings, only a few days old

Freshly hatched Golden Greek tortoises. In addition to the lovely coloring, they have the prettiest little faces with cute noses. :O)

Testudo graeca, Greek tortoises

Some of my 3rd generation (=2nd captive bred generation) youngsters. The yellow one on the right is almost patternless while the left one has a more typical Greek tortoise shell pattern. Just lighter and more yellow in color.

Behavior & personality of my Goldens

Here, I am covering the same topics I did on the Star tortoise personality page.

a.) General

In addition for their charming personalities, my Golden Greek tortoises are also well suited for full time outdoor living in my climate. I live in a warm, but not hot, dry area. Our summers are warm with cool nights and our winters are mild with little rain. During the coldest winter nights, temperature may occasionally drop down to high 30's, but usually stays in the 40's or above at night. On a rare occasion, we may have a night or two just hitting freezing temperatures, but that only happens every few years.

I keep my adult and subadult Goldens outdoors year round and I do not hibernate them. During the coldest part of the year I provide them with heated night houses or warm artificial caves. My Goldens will come out and bask year round, unless it's raining and/or very cold. Then they will stay in their warm houses.

b.) When alarmed

If anybody is walking by their enclosure, my Golden Greeks will stop, stay still, and check out the situation. If everything seems to be all right, like them noticing it's just me, most of them will continue with their previous activity. A few are so shy that they will pull their heads in and stay like that a while.

c.) Daily routine

My Goldens will leave their night hides when the morning sun hits their pen creating warm basking spots. They are most active in the mornings after these warm up sessions; ready to eat, run around, or do what ever they feel like doing. Best time to observe them. By afternoon, most of them have retired for the night, but some, especially males, may occasionally be active later in the day as well.

d.) Climbing

My Goldens are good climbers. They can scale uneven block walls and wire mesh pen walls. Scroll down to photos.

e.) Digging

My Goldens do not dig tunnels, but they like to bury their skin parts, head and legs, under the soil when sleeping.

f.) No big self soakers

I see my Goldens drinking from their water bowls, but I don't remember if I have ever seen my outdoor adult tortoises soaking themselves. Indoors, I may occasionally find a young hatchling sitting in his water dish.

g.) Activity level

My Goldens are active little tortoises, but their active daily periods are shorter than those of my Burmese Stars. My Goldens can be super active in mornings, but they also like "retire to bed" already in the afternoon. My Golden males are noticeable more active than the females who are more mellow and relaxed. Instead of running around, females like to enjoy a good meal or a nice bask in the sun.

h.) Shy or brave?

In general, my Goldens are not very shy, but of course some are more timid than others. When I bring them food outdoors, many of them start running towards me in anticipation of something yummy. Even my wild caught foundation group Goldens do this, not just the ones I've hatched and raised.

Note: My wild caught (wc) foundation group Greeks are NEVER in touch with my captive bred (cb) ones. They have always lived separately in their own enclosure. Avoid housing wc and cb bred tortoises together because wc animals can be carriers of harmful parasites and pathogens. By the way, if I would start all over with Greeks, I would only buy young cb babies and then raise them to adults. Greeks grow fast and mature quite young in tortoise terms. I would avoid any wc animals because they can be sickly and have a difficult time adjusting to captivity.

Agile climbers

Golden Greek tortoise climbing a wall

My Greeks are way better climbers than my Stars. Before I capped the corner, this Golden Greek girl did escape from her pen by climbing up this very corner. Twice. Once with no net and once by slipping under the cover netting. Since then, she has been known as Hudina (female version of Houdini). :O)

You can see how each level of the rock wall slightly overlaps the one below to discourage climbing, but that wasn't enough to stop her. It would be safer to build a free form pen with no straight corners or one with a lip all around.

Golden / Mesopotamian Greek tortoise climbing

The disadvantage of hardware cloth walls is that nimble tortoises, like this little Golden Greek, can scale up the walls.

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