I keep and breed three species of Mediterranean tortoises all of which do well in our climate with a little care and attention at certain times of the year:
Hermanns Tortoise (Testudo hermanni boettgeri ) - the smallest and probably the hardiest of my three Mediterranean species and the most active too, even in showery weather. Greenish to olive/straw coloured
carapace with darker markings. Real characters - always on the go. Adult length typically up to 20cm.
Hermanns Tortoises feeding
Female Hermanns laying
Adult Female Hermanns
This baby Hermanns really was this shape when it hatched
Marginated Tortoise (Testudo marginata) - the largest of the Mediterranean species growing to a maximum of around 30cm in length when adult. They are a lovely tortoise and the rarest of the three Mediterranean
species. Requirements as for the Hermanns Tortoise.
Adult male Marginated Tortoise
Hatchling Marginateds 2006
Baby tortoises start with friendly adults
Turkish Spur-thighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca ibera) - Virtually identical in its requirements to the Hermanns Tortoise and equally hardy in my experience. Fond of cropping grass so a little cheaper to feed as well!
Adult length typically up to 25cm.
Adult female Spur-thighed tortoise
Freshly laid clutch of Spur-thighed eggs
Newly hatched baby 'spurs'
The Mediterranean tortoises
I recommend any of my three Mediterranean tortoise species as suitable for anyone, even if you have never kept a tortoise before. Their care is virtually identical and I keep hatchlings indoors over their first winter in open-topped housing with a
spotlight for warmth and an Arcadia D3 daylight strip-light to provide 12% UVB radiation for proper bone-growth (please e-mail me for a comprehensive care-sheet).
From late-April onwards they are put outside on sunny days from about 12 noon to about 3pm on the lawn to give them access to natural sunlight and mixed vegetation. Outdoor accommodation must be escape-proof, predator proof (e.g. mesh top allowing
sunlight through but keeping cats and birds out) and include an area of shade to enable the tortoises to get out of the heat if they feel the need to. For the third winter and beyond I over-winter all my youngsters out-of-doors in cold-frames which
give frost protection.
My adults live in greenhouses all year round and also have outside access to direct sunlight, and also have the run of a secure garden for the summer months (generally from May to August).
Several excellent publications dealing with hibernation and with general care of Mediterranean tortoises are available from The Tortoise Trust and I recommend that you obtain one of their care-sheets and study it in depth before purchasing any tortoise.
The Tortoise Trust web-site is http://www.tortoisetrust.org
These tortoises, given proper care can live for upwards of 40 years so look at them as a long-term investment. All of my three Mediterranean species are listed on CITES Appendix II and each animal is supplied with a yellow Article 10 Exemption certificate
issued in my name by DEFRA as required by law.
Click here for my free Mediterranean Tortoise care-sheet and price-list.