Care sheet: Spur thighed

INFORMATION ON:

SPUR THIGHED TORTOISES (Testudo graeca)

GENERAL INFORMATION

THE SPUR THIGHED TORTOISE IS FOUND ONLY IN NORTH AFRICA AND SMALL POPULATIONS ALSO OCCUR IN SOUTHERN SPAIN AND THE BALEARIC ISLANDS. IT IS A POPULAR TORTOISE AMONGST PET KEEPERS AS IT CAN BE ACCLIMATISED TO THE BRITISH SUMMER PROVIDED IT IS GIVEN AN OVERNIGHT SHELTER. IN THE WILD, THE SPUR THIGHED HIBERNATES FROM NOVEMBER TO APRIL IN THE BRITISH CLIMATE. IT IS IMPORTANT TO FOLLOW THE PROCEDURE FOR HIBERNATION, WHICH CAN BE FOUND IN THE BOOKS LISTED AT THE END OF THIS SHEET. THIS SPECIES OF TORTOISE IS A CITIES APPENDIX 1 ANIMAL AND REQUIRES EXEMPTION PAPERS AND A MICROCHIP.

HOUSING

WHILST YOUNG, THE SPUR THIGHED TORTOISE IS BEST KEPT IN A HEATED VIVARIUM WITHIN A TEMPERATURE RANGE OF 80f TO 85f. AS THE TORTOISE DEVELOPS, IT CAN INCREASINGLY BE INTRODUCED TO AN OUTSIDE PEN DURING THE WARMER MONTHS, EVENTUALLY YOUR TORTOISE WILL ADAPT TO LIVING IN AN OUTSIDE ENVIRONMENT. WHILST KEPT IN A VIVARIUM, A DEEP SUBSTRATE SHOULD BE PROVIDED AS HERMANNS COMMONLY BURROW.

WHILST THE TORTOISE IS MAINTAINED IN A VIVARIUM, IT IS VITAL THAT IT RECEIVES THE CORRECT UV LIGHTING TO AID VITAMIN D3 PRODUCTION AND UTILIZATION. IT IS ALSO ADVISABLE TO USE CALCIUM ADDITIVES SUCH AS NUTROBAL TO SUPPLEMENT THEIR CALCIUM INTAKE. IN THE SUMMER, WHEN TEMPERATURES PERMIT, THE TORTOISE SHOULD BE PUT IN AN OUTSIDE ENCLOSURE / PEN IN ORDER TO BENEFIT FROM NATURAL SUNLIGHT. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT, SHOULD YOU PUT YOUR TORTOISE OUT INTO SUNLIGHT, YOU PROVIDE A SHADED AREA. THIS CAN BE ACHIEVED WITH CLUMPS OF HAY OR GRASS.

DIET

YOUR TORTOISE WILL THRIVE ON A DIET OF 80% GREEN MATTER AND 20% FRUIT MATTER. THE GREEN SHOULD CONSIST OF KALE, SPINACH, GREENS, BRUSSEL TOPS, PARSLEY, WATERCRESS, MIXED WITH 20% CARROT, TOMATO, MELON, GRAPE. DO NOT FEED YOUR TORTOISE ICEBERG OR ROUND LETTUCE ALTHOUGH YOU CAN FEED MIXED LETTUCE OBTAINABLE IN MOST SUPERMARKETS THIS WILL CONTAIN, CHINESE LETTUCE, RADDICO ETC. LETTUCE SHOULD BE VIEWED AS ONCE A WEEK FEED AS IT CONTAINS A HIGH AMOUNT OF WATER AND NOT AS MUCH GOODNESS AS THE OTHER FOODS MENTIONED. ALL FOODS SHOULD BE SUPPLEMENTED ON A DAILY BASIS WITH NUTROBAL, ALSO, FRESH WATER SHOULD BE AVAILABLE AT ALL TIMES.

THERE ARE ALSO TWO OTHER ALTERNATIVES AVAILABLE TO FEED YOUR TORTOISE, ONE IS ZOO MED TORTOISE FOOD AND THE OTHER IS T-REX DRY TORTOISE FORMULA. THESE CAN BE USED OCCASIONALLY TO AVOID HAVING TO CHOP FRESH FOOD DAILY, AND PROVIDE A HANDY FALLBACK.

ON RECEIPT OF YOUR TORTOISE

ON ARRIVAL SOAK YOUR TORTOISE IN TEPID WATER IN A CAT LITTER TRAY. DO NOT USE COLD TAP WATER AS THIS WILL BE A SHOCK TO THEM. SOAK THEM FOR APPROXIMATELY 30 MINUTES AND THEN OFFER THEM FRESH FOOD. WHEN YOU RECEIVE YOUR TORTOISE THEY MAY HAVE THEIR EYES CLOSED. THEY MAY HAVE FALLEN ASLEEP IN TRANSIT. WHEN YOU PICK UP YOUR TORTOISE THEY SHOULD OPEN THEIR EYES WITHIN A FEW SECONDS. IF YOUR TORTOISE IS SLUGGISH IN OPENING ITS EYES THEN BATH THEM WITH CLEAN TEPID WATER.

TO ENSURE THAT YOUR TORTOISE STAYS HYDRATED SOAK EVERY OTHER DAY, AS YOU DID ON ARRIVAL. YOU WILL NOTICE THAT YOUR TORTOISE WILL DRINK AND THEN DEFECATE. LEAVE THEM IN THE TRAY TO SOAK FOR APPROXIMATELY 30 MINUTES. CLEAN THE VIVARIUM COMPLETELY AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK AND REMOVE DROPPINGS DAILY.

RECOMMENDED READING
GENERAL CARE & MAINTENANCE OF POPULAR TORTOISES (AVS). PRACTICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF KEEPING & BREEDING TORTOISES & FRESHWATER TURTLES (A.Highfield), TORTOISE TRUST GUIDE TO TORTOISES & TURTLES. MEDITERRANEAN TORTOISES (TFH)