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Please Help Me Identify This Tortoise

Discussion in 'Tortoises' started by Fardringle, Mar 31, 2010.

  1. Fardringle

    Fardringle Member

    I recently acquired a tortoise from a college student who got the tortoise from a family that was moving away and could not take it with them. That family told the college student that it was a box turtle, which it definitely is not, so I don't know how well she was cared for, and the college student only had a basic UVA basking light for heat and fed her iceberg lettuce (which I understand isn't a very good choice for tortoise food). He had her for about three months so I was concerned that she might be experiencing some vitamin deficiencies due to the diet and lighting, but she seems to be OK as far as I can tell.

    I'm a tortoise beginner but I've been studying and reading as much as I can to try to learn how to properly take care of my new little friend. I have a ZooMed UVB lamp for her now and have been feeding her dandelions and kale leaves with Rep-Cal (Calcium and Vitamin D) sprinkled on it. She seems to be healthy and very active and likes to run around the house when I take her out of her relatively small (and temporary) aquarium, but I'm having trouble deciding for sure what species she is. I'd like to find out so that I can make sure I'm giving her the right temperatures and appropriate food. There aren't any reptile veterinarians in my area that I can find, so I'm hoping that you can help me out. I'll give you a description and then post some pictures.

    She has an almost flat plastron with a short, thick tail and a * shaped cloaca so I feel pretty comfortable calling her a "she". She definitely seems to be one of the Testudo species, and I'm pretty sure she's not Russian or Egyptian. She has five front claws and four back claws. I thought she might be a Mediterranean Spur-Thigh (Greek), but E. J. Pirog's book "Russian Tortoises" says that the spur-thigh females have a hinged plastron and my little lady does not appear to. Also, I haven't been able to find any pictures of what the actual "spur" is supposed to look like on that species' legs so I don't know if the few loose/hanging scales fit that description. Her plastron is 5.5 inches long and 4 inches wide, and from the base of her plastron to the peak of her carapace is just under 3.5 inches tall. She has a very skinny (about 1/8 inch) Nuchal scale over her neck and a single wide Supracaudal scale over her tail. Everything about this, including her general appearance, still makes me think that she's a Greek except that Pirog's chart says that Greek females have the hinged plastron. She could be a Marginated Tortoise as well based on the identifying traits, but all of the pictures I have found of Marginated Tortoises show very jagged marginals that almost look like the teeth of a gear and my tortoise definitely does not have those.

    Anyway, now that I've bored you with a description that may or may not be helpful, on to the pictures.. :)

    Thanks in advance for your help!




    Attached Files:

  2. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    the shape of the cloaca is not always an accurate indicator of gender, and some tortoises can be very hard to accurately sex. It could be that you indeed have a male of whatever species (I'm not so great on Tortoise ID, but I'm sure someone who is will be along) Other attributes that may help define gender (plastron concavity aside) would be shape and length of tail, shape and construction of different parts of the shell, but much of this will vary from one species to the next (which compounds the difficulties)

    But you're right, it is NOT a box turtle.
  3. Fardringle

    Fardringle Member

    Thanks for the input! I only mentioned that particular characteristic because one of the sites I read said that in the Mediterranean tortoises, it's usually star shaped for females and a straight line for males. The shape of the plastron around the tail actually seems to be a better indicator, and this one looks like the pictures of females that I've seen. As you said, it will help to know the species first, then verify the gender. :)
  4. hennisntacanibal

    hennisntacanibal Elite Member

    Not a Russian or sulcata, I can tell you that much!
  5. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    As far as small tortoise species - Hermann's is another, so are some of the native southwest tortoises (I think they are called desert tortoises - Gopherus agassizii) Take a look at those species, if you still aren't sure.

    I have no idea what you have, but I thought I'd toss a few suggestions for other small species out there.
  6. Lucysfriend

    Lucysfriend Elite Member

    I have no idea what kind it is, sorry. But I was told that it isn't good to put them on their backs. Nicole (BTW where has SHE BEEN?) lol told me this. She said that they can't breathe that way. Good luck and it is a beautiful one too! :)
  7. Fardringle

    Fardringle Member

    They definitely shouldn't stay on their backs, but since the plastron (bottom shell) is one way to help identify the different species, it seems quite common to do so for a very short time in order to take pictures. I have seen MANY pictures of tortoises in this position in books and galleries for identification purposes. My tortoise was only on her back for about 20 seconds when I took the pictures and didn't seem bothered by it at all.
  8. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    It does NOT look like a Hermann`s tortoise, if you go the this website you can search through photos of every species:
  9. Fardringle

    Fardringle Member

    After some extensive research, including a visit to a vet, we have determined that the tortoise is a Mediterranean Spur Thigh (Greek), most likely of the Iberian variety, and she is a she. :)

    Thank you very much for your replies and suggestions!
  10. iluvgreektortoise

    iluvgreektortoise Banned User

    I have a greek tortoise!!!!!

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