Star Tortoise Garden @
Star Tortoise Garden @

Golden Greek Care

What is a golden Greek?

Golden Greek tortoise is not a proper species name. Any yellowish colored Greek tortoise (Testudo graeca) can be called a golden Greek tortoise regardless of its origin or subspecies, but most golden Greeks are thought to be part of the Middle Eastern Greek tortoise group.

In captivity, golden Greek tortoises from various, unknown locations have been bred with each other. This complicates their identification and care in captivity. Some golden Greeks are hardier, while others are more sensitive. You will have to observe your goldens to find out what conditions, especially temperature and humidity levels, they tolerate and like best.

Goldens as pets

My golden Mesopotamian Greek tortoises (Testudo graeca terrestris) are adorable, spunky mini tortoises. Some of mine do indeed have beautiful golden yellow shells, but most are more beige in color. Their shell patterns are not as ornate as those of star tortoises, but their shells seem to shine and glow outdoors in the sunshine. Lovely little gems. Gold or not. :0)

Captive-bred and long-term captive golden Greeks are quite robust as pets and can tolerate a reasonable range of temperatures. They are rather easy keepers, as far as tortoises go, and generally do well in captivity. As adults, they are easy to breed when well cared for, and their babies are extremely cute.

On the other hand, newly imported golden Greek tortoises can be delicate and often need extra care and pampering at first. They can carry heavy parasite loads and/or be riddled with infections that need veterinary treatment. Sadly, many imports have perished. However, if successfully acclimated to captive conditions, they will thrive when kept appropriately. This acclimation period can last 1-2 years, or even longer.

Temperamental and unpredictable fresh imports are not recommended for inexperienced tortoise keepers, but captive-bred golden Greeks are a great choice for new tortoise hobbyist who have done proper research on their care (like one should do for any species). Captive-bred goldens are fairly easy to find and their prices are reasonable.


Golden Greek tortoises are said to be susceptible to respiratory problems if kept too cold, too humid, or too wet. Sometimes shellrot may also be a problem if kept too wet. Since goldens can be of different subspecies and come from various habitat areas, their hardiness in captivity will differ. Some goldens cannot tolerate high humidity or cool temperatures, while others do quite well in cooler temperatures as long as the conditions are dry.

Buying captive-bred golden Greeks is highly recommended over imports, but if your tortoise is a new import, take take him to a vet for exam, fecal test, and possibly a blood test. New Greek imports may carry infections and need deworming for both worms and protozoa. Without care, they may struggle and pass away.

About care advice

There is no specific one best way to care for tortoises, but many good ways to do it. A lot depends on your specific circumstances, like your location and climate, severity of seasons, your housing setups, and so on. Advice below provides some starting points in golden Greek tortoise care; they are not exact requirements. Observe your tortoises and adjust your care as needed. 





golden Mesopotamian Greek tortoise hatchling

Beautiful, freshly hatched golden colored Mesopotamian Greek tortoise baby.

yellow Mesopotamian Greek tortoise hatchling

Another fresh Mesopotamian Greek tortoise hatchling. This baby is also yellow, just a bit less golden in color.

Outdoor housing

adult golden Mesopotamian Greek tortoises outdoors

Some of my adult golden Mesopotamian Greeks in their outdoor pen.

golden Mesopotamian Greek tortoise corner climbing

My Greeks are way better climbers than my stars. Before I capped the corners, 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). :0)

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.

baby Mesopotamian  Greek tortoise climbing

This nimble baby golden Greek is demonstrating his climbing skills.

golden Mesopotamian Greek tortoise youngsters

Young Mesopotamian Greek tortoises sunning themselves at the doorway to their predator proof night cage. During the day, they have acces to the larger enclosure.

Indoor housing





Substrates & microclimates

Waterland turtle tub

The deep water model Waterland tubs (above) have enough depth for female golden Greeks to nest indoors during bad winter weather, if needed. The flatter Waterland land versions are one of my favorite indoor enclosures for small Greek tortoises before they move outdoors permanently. These tubs are waterproof and very easy to clean. I fill them with coconut coir, coir & coconut chip mix, or soil & coir mix.

A basking bulb and a long UVB tube are on top. The small, bright light on top left of the wire shelf is an electric fly trapper. This one works really well with the small fungus gnats that are common with indoor substrates.

Tip: The higher ramp of the water tub models can be slippery and difficult for tortoises to climb up. Especially if the soil level is too low. You can place a bathtub mat, or something similar, on the ramp to give better grip for tortoise nails.

Related pages: golden Greek profilegolden Greek hatchlings

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