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Mediterranean tortoise

Testudo graeca

Mediterranean tortoise

Mediterranean tortoises have been imported around the world since the 1890s. More than 10 million tortoises have passed through the UK alone since that time, most of them Mediterranean tortoises. These are the most popular tortoises in the UK. In the 1970’s and 1980’s there were widely kept as pets. This removal of so many tortoises from their natural habitat put severe pressure on the populations of these species.

In 1984, the trade of wild tortoises was totally banned.

Habitat
Grasslands and forest

Diet - Herbivore
Mediterranean tortoises eat leaves, fruit and other plant materials.

Size
These tortoises can grow to up to 36 centimetres in length.

Location
Mediterranean tortoises are found in scrubland and forests in north Africa, southern Europe and the Middle East.

Conservation status
The IUCN believes that these tortoises face a high risk of extinction in the wild. They are listed under Appendix II of CITES.

Threats
These tortoises are under threat from the pet trade and the destruction of their habitat. They are also hunted for food, their shells and for meat.

Current population
The numbers of the Mediterranean tortoise are declining quite rapidly. Exact figures are unknown.

Zoo population
There is an EEP for Mediterranean tortoises. There are around 740 living in zoos across the world.

Key to acronyms

IUCN - International Union for Conservation of Nature

CITES - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

EEP - European Endangered Species Programme

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