A Guide to Caring for Greek Tortoises: Diet and Care



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I love my pet Greek tortoise and am always looking for ways to take care of him in the best possible way and share my knowledge with others.

Food and Water

Greek tortoises are strict herbivores that require a diet that is high in fibre and low in protein.

You can feed your tortoise a variety of green vegetables every day.

  • Leafy greens and different types of lettuce—romaine, iceberg, long lettuce, Boston lettuce—are all good for them.
  • Broccoli, dandelion greens, pak choi are also good options.
  • Thinly sliced cucumbers and carrots also make a great addition to their diet. Try as much as possible to give them something different every day,
  • Other than vegetables you can also feed them fruits though that should make up only 10% of their diet. They love thinly sliced strawberries, raspberries and even apples.

How Often to Feed It

You can feed your tortoise once a day or twice a day. I would recommend twice a day of a good portion of mixed vegetables as mentioned above. The right measurement of food for your tortoise would depend on how big or small they are but usually a loose fist-size twice a day should be good.

You will notice as they grow, they will need more food and will come to your food plate looking for food. Just observe the signs they give you which can help you understand their requirements better.

Another tip would to ensure the vegetables are slightly wet; this gives them fresh vegetables and some water intake too!

Rock Food Plate

Having a rock food plate, I think is essential to have, as this keeps them from their food getting mixed with their bedding which if consumed can be dangerous for them. The food plate also has other benefits such as it is easy to keep clean and your tortoise knows this is a dedicated area where he can always find food. Try to clear the food as much as possible once they finish eating.

The tortoise rock food plate is ideal also because it is an eco-rock slab close to nature and when they walk over it, it helps in grinding their nails and beaks easily which otherwise trimming their nails can be a difficult task to do.

Vitamins and Turtle Bones

Besides food, just like us humans, tortoises also need their regular dose of vitamins. Turtle bones are also good to have in your tortoise enclosure. They are a good source of calcium which is essential for your tortoise. Having one in their enclosure is also another way to help trim their beaks and avoid overgrown beaks.

It's good to get vitamin drops or sprays which you can use just 1-2 drops or one spray on their food. This in return will give them the essential vitamins and minerals they are missing out either from their diet or natural sources such as sunlight and water. Try not to be too generous with the vitamins as it can cause diarrhea so please ensure you put only the recommended amount mentioned on the bottle.

Pellet Foods

There are a lot of tortoise pellet foods available in the market, but from my experience and based on my conversations with the vet, natural foods are always best for your tortoise.

Water Dish

Always have a low easy-to-access water dish in their enclosure. This may be used by your tortoise to drink from or to defecate. Ensure you change this every day.

Tortoise Care and Hygiene

Give Them Weekly Baths

Once a week you can soak your tortoise in warm water. This is good for them in so many ways as it is a way for them to remoisten their skin, absorb the water in the cloaca and just to cool off. You could use a toothbrush and lightly scrub their shell to scrub off any dirt. Basically, you could call this their bath session to ensure your tortoise is clean and healthy.

Check for Shell Buildup

Tortoises breathe through their shells, so always ensure there is no build-up of oil or dirt that can block their oxygen transfer. There is no need to oil your tortoise, however, if you notice that their shell may be cracking or peeling off – you could gently wipe them down with a little coconut oil. Tortoise shells can heal themselves however coconut oil does help their shells become stronger and fight any fungi which you could probably use once a month.

Check Their Eyes

Try to observe your tortoise’s eyes when you can, they should be able to open and close their eyes easily. If the right temperature is not being maintained, you may notice that your tortoise’s eyes get dry and may tend to be sticky whereby making it difficult for them to open and close their eyes. As soon as you notice this ensure to get them tortoise eye care which will re-wet the eye with a sterile liquid. The main reason for this could be too much humidity or heat in their enclosure. Having his water bowl topped up from time to time will also help regulate the humidity in his home.

Keep an Eye on Them in the Enclosure

Tortoises can be very active and may climb things and fall over. Falling on their side is relatively okay as they learn eventually how to pull themselves down straight. However, if your tortoise falls upside down on his shell, as they grow, they learn to tackle that too but if you see this give them a helping hand and put them back straight. Tortoises breathe through their shells and if they are upside down for long it makes it hard for them to breathe which could be fatal. So if you do see them struggling pick them up and help them out.

Be Aware of Their Poop

Tortoises can get diarrhea which will be in white liquid form. When you see this, it is a sign that something in his diet you are giving hasn’t agreed with him.

I’ve encountered this situation once or twice and from my experience, it was when too much fruit is given. Try to give your tortoise only a little bit of fruit—maybe once a week or maximum twice a week. As much as they love their fruits, too much of it isn’t good for them.

The right balance of food, water, and care could go a long way in keeping your tortoise healthy.

Mitchelle Peter (author) from Dubai, U.A.E on April 15, 2020:

Thank you, hes a keeper! :)

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 15, 2020:

Beautiful close up photos and detailed information. I don't have a tortoise. I just love them from afar. Nice article.


Heating

During the day, tortoises require a hot basking temperature. This is achieved by using clear spot bulbs at one end of the vivarium (or over a table). To accomplish the required basking temperature of 90 o F we use a basking bulb (100w in a 46" vivarium). The power of a basking bulb over a table is more dependant upon room temperature. Basking bulbs should be on for 10- 12 hours per day and must be controlled by a dimming thermostat.

For a tortoise table we would use a combined basking/UVB bulb around 100-160w depending on the size of the table. The bulb is raised or lowered to achieve the correct temperatures.

At night tortoises require a drop in temperature and darkness. They can drop to room temperature, so all heating and lighting equipment should be turned off. Temperatures should be monitored daily using a thermometer.

Buy Basking Bulbs


Conclusion

Greek tortoise care is nothing to be afraid of. As long as you’re aware of their long lifespan and are willing to put in the time to keep them healthy, we’re confident that you’ll be able to help your pet reptile thrive.

If you have questions about anything that wasn’t covered in this care sheet you can always ask us! Hearing from our readers never gets old.

Hunter Briggs

Hunter Briggs is an experienced reptile breeder who has been keeping and raising various species over the past seven years. What initially started as curiosity quickly turned into a deep passion for herpetology, and a connection with the reptile community as a whole.


Tortoises live in so many types of environments with different sources of foods available to them, it’s hard to give a general rule for what they can eat as a whole. Because of the wide variety of species and natural environments (and age-related needs, too), there’s some research involved in making sure your tortoise gets the right diet at the right stage of life.

Generally speaking, a tortoise’s diet is going to be made up of mostly leaves and various plants. Yet, contrary to popular belief, some tortoises are actually omnivorous in the wild and not just vegetarians. But before you hand your tortoise some tasty insects, be sure you know which species he is and if he even needs this added protein. To help, this article will divide tortoises into two groups:

Mediterranean tortoises, whose scientific Latin names all begin with testudo. These tortoises take up a large percentage of the tortoise population.

Tropical tortoises, whose scientific Latin names generally start with geochelone. These tropical tortoises have been documented as having eaten things like carrion, slugs, and some insects or worms. Please keep in mind that this is in very small quantities and you are unlikely to see a tortoise go out of its way to eat these things.

It’s All About Location!

Desert-dwelling tortoises, or tortoises who come from more arid and dry biomes in the wild, can use the same diet as Mediterranean tortoises. Whether this is the perfect diet or not is still heavily dependent on species and life stage. Always check to see what species your tortoise is before giving them certain foods. In captivity, for example, the omnivorous tropical tortoises can happily live off a diet of plant mater. But if you try to feed a strictly vegetarian tortoise any kind of meat or insect matter, they can become extremely ill.

An example of a Mediterranean tortoise is the Greek tortoise. A species of tropical tortoise would be the star tortoise. There are a lot more species of tortoises though. We only mention these two to show how similar, yet very different tortoise species can be.

Honestly, their classifications get a little crazy. Just keep in mind that all tortoises can happily and healthily live on a diet of greens, vegetables, and flowers. It’s better to err on the side of caution here, opting for the herbivore route if in doubt! They will likely enjoy it anyway, especially if they are captive bred. As captive torts, their food sources should be frequent and stable enough that they don’t have to eat things like slugs and bugs.


Subspecies of Greek tortoise for sale

Several subspecies of the Greek tortoise are recognized, which has enabled a high amount of confusion in regard to proper identification of captive specimens. Familiar forms of the greek tortoise are:

Ibera greek tortoise (Testudo graeca ibera)
Libyan Greek tortoise (T. g. cyrenaica)
North African Greek tortoise (T. g. graeca)
golden green tortoise (T. graeca ssp.)
Tunisian Greek tortoise (T. g. nabulensis)


Watch the video: Great BABY TORT setups for GREEK, RUSSIAN, HERMANNs u0026 more!


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