Greek Tortoise Profile
Greek tortoise subspecies
The Greek tortoise (Testudo graeca) is also known with the common names of the "Mediterranean spur-thighed tortoise" and "Moorish tortoise." The subspecies list varies depending on the source and publication date. As of this writing in 2008, below is the Greek tortoise subspecies (ssp) listing from the IUCN / SCC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group. For full classification, go the current checklist [offsite link].
Testudo graeca (T.g.) - spur-thighed tortoise, Greek tortoise, Moorish tortoise:
- T.g. graeca, Linnaeus, 1758 - Mediterranean spur-thighed tortoise
- T.g. armeniaca, Chkhikvadze and Bakradze, 1991 - Araxes tortoise, Armenian Greek tortoise
- T.g. buxtoni, Boulenger, 1921 - Buxton’s tortoise
- T.g. cyrenaica, Pieh and Perälä, 2002 - Cyrenaican spur-thighed tortoise, Libyan Greek tortoise
- T.g. ibera, Pallas, 1814 - Asia Minor tortoise, Ibera Greek tortoise
- T.g. marokkensis, Pieh and Perälä, 2004 - Morocco tortoise (incl. T.g. lamberti)
- T.g. nabeulensis, Highfield, 1990 - Nabeul tortoise, Tunisian spur-thighed tortoise
- T.g. soussensis, Pieh, 2001 - Souss Valley tortoise
- T.g. terrestris, Forsskål, 1775 - Mesopotamian tortoise (incl. T. terrestris, T. floweri, T.g. anamurensis, T. antakyensis)
- T.g. zarudnyi, Nikolsky, 1896 - Iranian tortoise
Greek tortoise baby. This one's a golden Greek / Mesopotamian tortoise and he's only a few hours old.
Confusing common names
Greek vs sulcata
The Greek tortoise aka "Mediterranean spur-thighed tortoise" (Testudo graeca) should not to be confused with the "African spurred tortoise" (Centrochelys [Geochelone] sulcata) commonly known as the sulcata. Unlike small Greeks, sulcatas are very strong and very large tortoises. Some adults can weigh over 150 lb!
Greek in the US vs Europe
In the U.S., the name "Greek tortoise" refers only to the Testudo graeca, but in Europe the Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni) can also be called a Greek tortoise (e.g. Griechische Landschildkröte in German). Probably because Greece is part of Hermann's tortoise's native range.
Sub-adult golden Greek / Mesopotamian tortoise hatched and raised by me. I love the spotted ones!
Quick Greek facts
- Very popular pet tortoises, size up to 5"-11"
- The cold hardy Ibera Greek tortoise is one of the best beginner tortoises
- From southern Europe, Middle East, North Africa; live in semi arid and rocky areas
- Golden Greeks, aka Mesopotamian tortoises, are beautiful, often yellowish colored Greek tortoises native to hot and sandy locations in the eastern Mediterranean
- Active, friendly, hardy (depending on ssp), adapt to new environments
- Like to climb and dig
- Should be kept outdoors whenever possible, at least during warm summer months
- Hibernate yes/no depending on native area
Related page: Golden Greeks