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The Marginated Tortoise

This species was originally described by Schoepff in 1792 and has not yet undergone any reclassification, nor has it been divided into specific races or sub species. Its natural range is restricted to Southern Greece and the Greek islands, although mankind has also introduced it to Italy.

This is the largest of all Testudo species with adults reaching 35cm. Young animals are similar in appearance to Testudo Graeca, but take on a completely different elongated body-shape as they grow older, culminating in extremely exaggerated flaring of the rear marginal scutes in male specimens. This marginal flaring isn’t so prominent in the females; however their overall body-shape still becomes elongated in mature specimens. The carapace markings consist of small yellow/orange circular blotches on the central and costal scutes and small triangular markings of the same colour on the marginals. However, the overall appearance of the carapace is extremely dark; in fact some animals can be completely black. In complete contrast the plastron is a very light creamy-yellow with a dark triangular marking on each scute – this feature is highly recognisable and is visually stunning. The skin around the leg and neck regions is typically cream or light yellow, darkening around the head. This species does not have spurs or tubercles on the thighs, nor do they possess a bony tip to the end of their tail. The supracaudal scute is undivided.

Gender Diversity

The overall physical size of a male tends to be larger than that of a female of the same age, which is unusual in the Testudo genera. The tails of the males in this species are long and thick, whereas the female’s tails are short and stubby. However, the most significant difference between the sexes is the incredible flaring of the rear marginals in the male specimens. It is this feature that gives this particular species of tortoise its name. As usual the female plastron is flat and the male plastron is concave. Females also have a slightly flexible lower plastral lobe.

Identification in Brief

  • No spurs or tubercles on the thighs
  • No horny tip on the end of the tail
  • Undivided supracaudal scute
  • Slightly flexible plastron in females
  • Yellow plastron with dark triangles on each scute
  • Elongated body shape and considerable marginal flaring in males

Requirements

Housing

Both Outdoor and Indoor/Greenhouse accommodation

Substrate

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

Diet

Herbivorous

Planting

Coarse Shrubs, Thicket, Cacti, Grasses & Weeds

Hibernation

Yes

Other

N/A