Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Greeks vs Russians

This sunny weather the past few days has been so nice. It was still a little chilly, but I decided to let the tortoises tank up a bit of good old 'real' sunshine. The 4 Russian tortoises had a BLAST, climbing and running all over the place. Boo, our Greek tortoise, on the other hand... well...

"I'm not coming out. You can't make me."
Boo spent the ENTIRE time hiding in his shell. I don't let my Greek interact with my Russians, mainly to prevent them from trading pathogens. They have separate tortoise tables in separate rooms, and I wash hands between handling them. One of the Russians managed to cross over into Greek lawn territory, however...

"Hey! You look different!"
Mila was very curious about Boo, she sniffed his shell, and then tried to bulldoze the side of his shell. When she started to circle him and moved towards him with her mouth open in classic territorial defense, I separated them. Boo probably didn't notice any of this - he remained snuggly tucked into his shell the whole time.


  1. Interesting. How do you tell if it is Russian vs Greek from the shell? I see pet stores identifying some as Russian that I thought were Greek due to a "solid scute" over tail, which I read that Greek's have. I purchased what I was told was not sure! Thanks for any info.

    1. Good question. :) To get 100% accurate information, you would need to contact one of the testudo identification experts on the Tortoise Forum (, such as GBtortoises e.g. - but as a rule of thumb, Russian tortoises are generally more flat and round, whereas Greeks are more domed and narrow. The Russians usually start out with dark areas in the middle of their scutes which then irregularly speckle outwards, whereas Greeks have striations that make stripes in each scute. Greek males have a concave plastron, but Russian tortoise males have a flat plastron, just like females. Greeks don't have a claw on the end of their tail (but Hermanns do, and most Russian torts do).
      If you want to email me a pic of your tortoise I can probably figure it out for you. You can send the pic to mossyrockdesigns(at)


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