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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 17:30 EDT

Greek Tortoise

The Greek Tortoise, Testudo graeca, is one of four European member of the Testudinidae family of tortoises. The other members of the family are Herman’s Tortoise, Marginated Tortoise, and Horsfield’s Tortoise.

There are six noticeable differences between males and females of the Greek Tortoise. Males have a longer tail that tapers to an even point. The anal cavity opening is farther from the base of the tail on the male. The male’s underbelly is somewhat curved, while females have a flat shell on the underside. The rear portion of a male’s carapace is wider than it is long. Finally, the posterior plates of the carapace often flange outward.

During mating, the female stands still, bracing herself with her front legs, moving the front part of the body to the left and right in the same rhythm as the male’s cries. One successful mating will allow the female to lay eggs multiple times. When breeding in captivity, the females and males must be kept separate. If there are multiple males, one takes on a dominant role and will try, unsuccessfully, to mate with the other males in the pen.

One or two weeks before egg-laying, the animals become notably agitated, moving around to smell and dig in the dirt, even tasting it, before choosing the ideal spot to lay the eggs. One or two days before egg laying, the female takes on an aggressive, dominant behavior, mounting another animal as for copulation and making the same squeaking sound the male produces during copulation. The purpose for this behavior is to produce respect in the tortoise community, so that the female will not be disturbed by the others during egg laying.

Greek Tortoise