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Greek Tortoise Care Sheet

Indoor habitat and care

The indoor habitat for Greek tortoises and its similar species is a very easy one to make. A single tortoise can live in a cage as small as a 20 gallon(long), but they would prefer a cage of 40 gallons or more. Two tortoises can live easily and stress free in a 40 gallon. Some tortoise keepers use alfalfa pellets for substrate, but it is usually better to use a thick layer of fir, sphagnum, and peat moss as substrate. These tortoises usually do not dig but some will so a thick layer on one side with a thin layer on the other will work very well for them. Tortoises usually bury in the substrate, but it is safer to put some sort of hide house just in case they are too hot but wont dig to escape the heat. Put the hide house on the opposite side as the heat source so you can establish a good temperature gradient so the tortoise has a few different temperature options to choose from. Heat and UV light are two other items needed in a tortoise tank. The wattage of the heat bulb depends on many things: temperature of your house, size of cage, depth of cage, open/closed cage top. The usual light needed for a 20 gallon tank is a 100 watt basking light but it may change depending on many factors. UV light is needed to keep the tortoise healthy. An Ultraviolet light with a UVB percentage of 7% or higher is recommended. A water bowl is not needed because these tough guys get all of their water from their food. You cant hurt by putting in a water bowl just in case for them to take drinks or baths. Just make sure that the water is shallow enough that an overturned tortoise doesnt drown in it. If you decide to not use a water bowl, weekly warm water soakings are recommended so that they can take long drinks to stay well hydrated.

Outdoor habitat and care

An outdoor habitat for these tortoises is a simple and easy one. They dont need much when housed outside besides the basic requirements of most animals. These tortoises need an enclosed environment. They are very good at escaping an enclosure that is not properly secured. As stated before, Greeks and their kin may dig so an enclosure with a dug in base around it. An enclosure should be dug in around 8 inches down just to make sure a determined tortoise cannot get out in a single day without notice. Small bricks can also be placed inside the tortoise enclosure to prevent digging. When the tortoise digs at the base of the brick it falls in where they dig. This isnt surefire, but its a factor that may help in preventing a tortoise from getting out. Another thing needed in an outdoor enclosure is some sort of cover from the elements. It could be a box, board, or any sold item that they can escape into. A completely secure enclosure is needed to protect all outdoor animals. Most wild mammals will snack on a tortoise. If you can reach into the enclosure with the lid on, then the "pest" can get in there too!(the "pests" have all night to get to their food that happens to be in the form of your pet tortoise). There is no such thing as an overprotected, outdoor enclosure! Its better to be safe than sorry!


The Greek tortoise and its relatives are opportunistic eaters. They will eat whenever the food is available because it never knows when food is going to b available. In the wild, these tortoises will eat anything that is in their reach. In its natural habitat, the Greek tortoise prefers to feed on broad leaf plants instead of long grasses. Hermann's tortoises will even continue to feed on dried plants. They also feed on fallen fruits and flowers. These tortoises have even been known to eat insects and animal feces. In the captive habitat, Greek tortoises eat a wide variety of comercial foods and natural plants. Although Greek tortoises prefer broad leafy greens and some fruit, the following is a list of acceptable food items.

Standard Foods

  • Romain lettuce
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Turnip greens
  • Collard greens
  • Parsley
  • Cabbage(on occasion)--cabbage that is fed long term has damaging effects to the thyroid so it is highly recommended to be fed
  • sparingly!
  • Red-leaf lettuce
  • Green-leaf lettuce
  • NO ICEBERG LETTUCE-- this type of lettuce in itself is not bad for any animal, but it has no nutritional value and most animals tend to enjoy it too much. They will wait long periods of time to get this tasty lettuce while avoiding other foods in the process.
  • Cucumber
  • Tomatoes(just the fruit, not the plant)
  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Parsley
  • Squash
  • Most Berries and Melons
  • Timothy Hay
  • Alfalfa Grass
  • Bermuda Grass
  • Dandelion
  • Most Weeds
  • Cactus Pads


Captive born Greek tortoises do very well for the average owner. They are very outgoing and spunky! They are timid when chased or teased, but otherwise make great beginner pets. Wild Greek tortoises can bring unexpected problems and situations that would not be present if purchased. They can bring in parasites and disease. A wild caught tortoise can bring in a high vet bill for a seemingly cheap tortoise. It is highly recommended to speak to the breeder or supplier before buying a tortoise. Know where it is coming from and what it is eating. Dont be afraid to ask age, weight, eating pattern, and even cage environment. If the supplier will not give you this information it is best to say no thanks and find a more reliable and trustworthy supplier.


Greek tortoises breed very readily in captivity. There are many different ways to achieve breeding status. For specific questions please contact us. We will be more than happy to answer your questions.

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Off The Ark

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