All about Indian & Burmese Star tortoises, Angulates, and Golden Greeks...

Golden Greek Tortoises

- personality & behavior -

Golden Greek, aka Mesopotamian tortoise 13 days old

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

Best personality

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

I have to say that among the tortoise species I keep and breed, my Golden Greeks consistently have the best personalities. As hatchlings, they are the most active and least timid. Even my Burmese Star and Angulate hatchlings are more shy and sedentary.

I keep my Goldens in groups outdoors and they seem to get along quite well. I raise my hatchlings in groups, not singly. Maybe that helps them with "social skills" and they are used to each other. :O) I have not witnessed much competitive behavior among the males. Spring is the most unruly time, that's when males get very amorous and pursue the females rather persistently.

Goldens vs Burmese Stars

As I mentioned above, my Golden Greeks are consistently more active and less timid than my Burmese Stars. With my Burmese Stars it's a bit of hit and miss with their personality. I have a few older boys that are very relaxed and not timid at all, but I also have a bunch of Burmese Stars that spend most of their time hiding in the bushes. Rarely venturing 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 pest. :O) 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 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 its 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 houses when the morning sun hits their enclosure creating warm basking spots. They are most active in the mornings after these warm up sessions; ready to eat, run around, or 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 cages. 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 consistently the most active tortoises among my groups. They can be super active in late mornings, but they also like retire "to bed" in the afternoon and are rarely active later in the day.

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, most 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.

Agile climbers

Golden Greek tortoise climbing a wall

My Greeks are wayyy 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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