Mediterranean Spur Thighed Tortoise, Turkish Spur-thighed Tortoise
Scientific Name: Testudo ibera
There are five different subspecies of the Greek Spur Thighed Tortoise. Females are slightly larger than males, with an average size of about 8 inches (20 cm). Males average around 7 inches (18 cm). The largest female known grew to 11.4 inches (29 cm). Greek Spur Thighed Tortoises have a central areola and anterior banding. Tortoises living at higher elevations often are missing these characteristics and may be entirely black. It is believed that the darker coloration serves to absorb heat in cooler weather. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that tortoises in lower elevations are often bright yellow, which would reflect the heat. The name "Spur-thighed Tortoise" comes from the two tubercles, or "spurs," found on the thighs.
Greek Spur Thighed Tortoises lay large oval eggs. The female will lay a clutch of about 7 eggs, between May and June. The eggs usually hatch between August and September when the rainy season begins.
Found throughout Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and the Republic of Georgia and can also be found in western Iran and north-eastern Greece
The Greek Spur-thighed Tortoise is considered good luck by some people who live in the same areas the tortoises do.
They live in a variety of habitats, in different elevations. Greek Spur Thighed Tortoises can live in rocky areas with poor vegetation, although this is relatively rare. The tortoises generally prefer areas with more vegetation. The Greek Spur Thighed Tortoise is omnivorous, though it mainly feeds on plant matter. They are also seen eating the occasional insect in the wild such as slugs or grubs. They are diurnal and are therefore mostly active during the day. They spend much of their day grazing, retreating to their burrows when night falls. The tortoises do not always return to the same burrow, however. They will simply go to whichever one is closest or build a new one. Many tortoises will use the same burrow. This species usually lives between 75 and 100 years on average.
Europe and Middle East
The Greek Spur Thighed Tortoise is one of the most common Mediterranean Tortoises. They can be found throughout Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and the Republic of Georgia and can also be found in western Iran and north-eastern Greece. The Greek Spur Thighed Tortoises of Turkey often reside in the ruins of Xanthos and Kaunos, ancient Lycean cities. Although some Greek Spur -thighed Tortoises are killed by vehicles, most Turks consider the tortoises good luck and try to avoid hitting them. The largest population of Greek Spur-thighed Tortoises is in Turkey.
In the wild, the Greek Spur Thighed Tortoise feeds on mallows, dandelions, and various legumes.