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Testudo (Graeca) Ibera

This tortoise was originally described by Pallas in 1814 before being reclassified as a subspecies of T.Graeca by Robert Mertens in 1946. However, recent studies show that the original classification of this tortoise as a species in its own right was almost undoubtedly correct in the first place.

Its natural range includes Turkey, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Syria, Iraq, Western Iran and Jordan. Due to this vast geographical range it should come as no surprise that his supposed Graeca subspecies does have subspecies of its own (although they are yet to be classified). The skin colouration along with the carapace can be almost black in some specimens, although most have a dark green background colour to the carapace with very dark or black markings around each scute and a central black dot in the middle of the vertebral and costal scutes.

These animals have the usual features of all the spur-thighs – no tail spur, hinged plastron in adult females and spurs upon the rear thighs. The T.Ibera species often has two spurs on each thigh. They can be more positively identified from T.Graeca through the following features; the head shape is not as snake like – being more broad and blunt and the eyes are much rounder and larger than that of their North African counterparts. The overall dimensions of Ibera are much larger with the males attaining an average carapace length of 18cm and the females 20cm. The carapace isn’t so highly domed but rather flat in comparison, also the frontal vertebral scute in this species is angular rather than round.

Gender Diversity

Males are smaller in overall size and have a more elongated body shape with a narrower “waist”. Male tails are longer and thicker, normally carried upwards and towards one side, whereas females have short stubby tails which point straight down. Again, the male’s plastron is concave whereas the female’s plastron is flat.

Identification in Brief

  • Large single or double spur on each upper rear thigh
  • No horny tip on the end of the tail
  • Flexible lower plastron in adult females
  • Broad, blunt head with large round eyes
  • Flattish carapace
  • Squareish, angular frontal vertebral scute

Requirements

Housing

Both Outdoor and Indoor/Greenhouse accommodation

Substrate

Sand and Soil Mix (50/50) plus Gravel and Rocks

Diet

Herbivorous

Planting

Coarse Shrubs, Thicket, Cacti, Grasses & Weeds

Hibernation

Yes

Other

N/A