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For tortoise, terrapin and turtle care and conservation

Care of THE SPUR-THIGHED TORTOISE (Testudo graeca)

HABITAT: In areas with hot summers, moist or dry areas, hillsides and light woodland. 

SUBSPECIES: Four subspecies are recognised with two others now being accepted. 

1. The Mediterranean Spur-thighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca graeca)

Spur Thighed

RANGE: Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. 

2. The Asia Minor Spur-thighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca ibera)

Asia Minor Spur-thighed Tortoise

RANGE: Central Balkans to the Black Sea, Turkey, USSR to Iran. 

3. The Middle Eastern Spur-thighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca terrestris

RANGE: Syria, Israel, Sinai. 

4. The Iranian Spur-thighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca zarudnyi)

RANGE: Occurring in eastern and southern Iran.

Two others are mentioned in J.B.Iverson's "A Revised Checklist with Distribution Maps of the Turtles of the World" (1992): The Anamurum Spur-thighed Tortoise (T.g.anamurensis) from the South Coast of Turkey and Nikolsky's Spur-thighed Tortoise (T.G.nikolski) from the northwestern Caucasus region of the USSR.

FEATURES: The Spur-thighed Tortoise has a small spur on each thigh and a single supracaudal plate. There is rather coarse scaling on the front of the fore-legs. Colour is variable from yellow to orange, brown and black and, like the carapace length, varies according to subspecies*. Females display a moveable hinge on the plastron facilitating egg laying. Eggs hatch in 78-81 days. * The Middle Eastern Spur-thighed Tortoise (T.g.terrestris) is the smallest, highly domed, with yellow cheeks and a yellow blotch on the top of its head. It has a pattern of dark blotches on a dark yellow background on every scute. It resembles the second smallest, the Mediterranean Spur-thighed Tortoise (T.g.graeca) from Tunisia and Morocco;(the Algerian type is lighter coloured and displays a pattern of dark lines on a grey-sandy background). The Iranian Spur-thighed Tortoise (T.g.zarudnyi) is the second largest animal and mainly black with a rather rounded carapace, a black head and black scaled limbs. The largest is the Asia Minor Spur-thighed Tortoise (T.g.ibera); it can reach a carapace length of 25cm or more and its carapace is more elongated than its Iranian cousin; the scutes have black blotches on a yellow background and usually both head and limbs are yellow.

CARE AND FEEDING: See the Care of Mediterranean Tortoises care sheet.