I do not believe that any tortoise species can be classified as “easy-to-keep”, but several are better-suited as pets than others. I’ve covered on of these, the Russian Tortoise (Testudo horsfieldi), in an earlier article (read article here). The Greek Tortoise (T. graeca), while interesting enough for the most seasoned hobbyist, may also be the best pet tortoise, and an ideal choice for first-time keepers. Topping out at 8 inches in length, captive-bred individuals are readily available. They are as personable as any of their relatives, and decades of popularity among European keepers has left us with a good understanding of their needs. I’ll summarize these in the following article, and will also draw from my own experiences with this and related species during my long career at the Bronx Zoo.
A Note on Classification
Also known as the Mediterranean Spur-Thighed Tortoise (not to be confused with Africa’s Spurred Tortoise, Geochelone sulcata), the Greek Tortoise is one of the smaller of the world’s 53 tortoise species.
Its taxonomy is somewhat complicated, with up to 13 subspecies being recognized. Traditionally, T. g. ibera comprised the bulk of those in the pet trade, and it remains the most widely-bred subspecies. The parent stock seems to have originated mainly from Turkey. Read More »