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Marginated tortoise
- Testudo marginata

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The Marginated tortoise You can live up 100 years. This should be taken into account when buying a young animal. It is advisable to think about inheritance when buying: who will keep my animal then?
Marginated tortoise
A Marginated tortoise in Achaea, Greece – Konstantinos Kalaentzis, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons



Their presence extends from southern Greece to Albania. In Greece, especially from the Peloponnese to Olympus. In the northeast of Sardinia this type of turtle has also been installed. Now you can see the Marginated tortoise in Italy. But, Italian specimens are considered released specimens.

Characteristics / Aspect

It is the largest European tortoise, and also the largest of the genre Testudo, can weigh more than 5 kg and measure more than 35 cm length.

The Marginated tortoise has the posterior marginal scutes well extended backwards and sometimes slightly curved. Otherwise, the shell of the Marginated tortoise it is quite elongated. halfway up, a kind of waist can be seen in many animals.

These turtles have a very dark shell, in adults the background color is almost black. The shell has light spots. Very bright triangular spots can be found on the ventral carapace. Animals that have not yet reached sexual maturity and still count as juveniles usually have a rather rounded shell and not elongated. The color is also much lighter. As the broad scutes on the trailing edge only appear when they are larger, young animals can be recognized by their absence.


Testudo marginata
Testudo marginata

The habitat of the Marginated tortoise found more in mountainous regions. Males and females live at altitudes up to 1.600 m. At this point it is important to maintain a sufficient temperature. This is where the Marginated tortoise benefits from its dark-colored shell, which directly absorbs the heat of the smallest rays of the sun and causes the body temperature to rise.


In its habitat it feeds mainly on plants that grow in the meadows of the Mediterranean regions.. The females that carry eggs, as well as the youth, they also feed on animal proteins from earthworms and snails. Turtles prefer to forage for food in the morning.. At noon, when is hot, they hide in the shade and wait for the afternoon temperatures to rise.

Their diet consists mainly of plants that are low in protein but rich in crude fiber.. Typical plants for fodder Marginated tortoise are the dandelion, Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa), wild mallow, the kidney vetch, calendula and nettle. Grass or hay is also mixed with animal feed.


The hibernation is an important issue for Marginated tortoise. in the habitat, they go into hibernation during the cold season. But, they interrupt it on warm days and continue it afterwards. Unlike Greek tortoise, the Testudo marginata does not necessarily go into hibernation for several months without interruption.

Breeding / Reproduction

Immediately after the hibernation, the turtle begins to mate and this is noticeable, among other things, by the vehemence with which the males pursue the female and urge her to reproduce. For the females to give in, repeatedly and inexorably surrounds them and bites them on the legs. Through an intense thrust, the males further harass the females until they finally bring them up. Reproduction is marked by the distinctive sounds of the male. During this time, the female only stretches her head laterally upwards.

The female buries the eggs in suitable places in a burrow that she digs beforehand.. to the burrow, the female needs soft soil that is suitable for digging. If the soil is too hard, you can soften him by draining water from his anal bladder. Only when the burrow is ready, the eggs are carefully laid and rolled to the end of the burrow. After the laying of the last egg, the burrow closes again and an incubation period of about 100 days. The Marginated tortoise puts up to 15 eggs per clutch and can create up to three clutches in a season. If you want to breed yours in captivity, can expect the first pups after only 60 incubation days. Breeding takes place at 31,5 constant degrees.


State of conservation ⓘ

Status Minor Concern ⓘ (UICN)ⓘ

The Marginated tortoise (Testudo marginata) is at risk of disappearing in the wild mainly due to anthropogenic factors such as: mechanized agriculture and the use of pesticides, the traffic, the forest fires, the destruction of the environment, the wild urbanization, illegal capture and the threat of new predators. The capture of turtles as food for humans seems non-existent although it existed in the past, the current priority for the conservation of the species is the conservation of its habitat, heavily damaged by the spread of agriculture and urbanization, especially for mass tourism.

The "Marginated tortoise" in captivity


The Marginated tortoise (Testudo marginata) he is a very nice tortoise to keep. It is important to keep the turtle in an outdoor enclosure and never in a terrarium. – the animal grows too much for it and a terrarium does not offer the necessary conditions to keep it. In an outdoor enclosure, a cold enclosure or a greenhouse, both equipped with technology such as heat lamps. The outdoor enclosure must have at least 10 square meters for an adult animal. The food consists of all the wild herbs that can be found in nature. It is advisable to create a self-sufficient diet by planting and growing wild herbs in the enclosure.


The Marginated tortoise It, by nature, a species that lives in the soil. As a key to the size of the greenhouse we recommend calculating with the length of the animal's carapace. The carapace is the dorsal. The size of the terrarium is calculated as follows for non-adult animals:

  • Greenhouse floor space: eight times x four times the length of the animal's carapace.
  • greenhouse height: Twice the length of the animal's carapace, but not less than 25 cm..

Observe the growth of the animal in the coming months (fast-growing animal/slow-growing animal) For adult animals (of legal age).

What substrate, it is recommended to create different areas. A turtle bed made directly for turtles, a sandy area slightly mixed with calcium gravel (as it is digestible), pine bark and firm clay soil. So the animals have different areas, which are also used differently. They like to bury themselves in the turtle bed when it is slightly damp.. Small roots or stone slabs complete the decoration. Please, make sure this decoration is installed in such a way that it cannot be raised too high. Turtles like to climb, but not very well, of course, and constantly falling on your back stresses animals too much. Vegetable ornaments are eaten, so use artificial plants.


In captivity, care should be taken to ensure a balanced diet. Ideally, only use fresh plants from nature. To ensure that the diet of the Marginated tortoise be varied, it is recommended to selectively cultivate wild herbs. This can also be done directly in the turtles' outdoor enclosure so they can feed themselves..

with special seeds, various wild grasses can be sown from spring to fall.

Buy one "Marginated tortoise"

The price of a "Marginated tortoise" at the exotic animal market, bred in captivity, ranges between 130 – 200 EUR, depending on its size.

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Alternative names:

1. Dwarf marginated tortoise (English).
2. Marginata, Tortue marginata (French).
3. Breitrand-Schildkröte (German).
4. Tartaruga-dentada (Portuguese).
5. Tortuga de Grecia (español).

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