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A Guide to Caring for Greek Tortoises: Diet and Care

I love my pet Greek tortoise and am always looking for ways to take care of him in the best possible way and share my knowledge with others.


Food and Water

Greek tortoises are strict herbivores that require a diet that is high in fibre and low in protein.

You can feed your tortoise a variety of green vegetables every day.

  • Leafy greens and different types of lettuce—romaine, iceberg, long lettuce, Boston lettuce—are all good for them.
  • Broccoli, dandelion greens, pak choi are also good options.
  • Thinly sliced cucumbers and carrots also make a great addition to their diet. Try as much as possible to give them something different every day,
  • Other than vegetables you can also feed them fruits though that should make up only 10% of their diet. They love thinly sliced strawberries, raspberries and even apples.

How Often to Feed It

You can feed your tortoise once a day or twice a day. I would recommend twice a day of a good portion of mixed vegetables as mentioned above. The right measurement of food for your tortoise would depend on how big or small they are but usually a loose fist-size twice a day should be good.

You will notice as they grow, they will need more food and will come to your food plate looking for food. Just observe the signs they give you which can help you understand their requirements better.

Another tip would to ensure the vegetables are slightly wet; this gives them fresh vegetables and some water intake too!


Rock Food Plate

Having a rock food plate, I think is essential to have, as this keeps them from their food getting mixed with their bedding which if consumed can be dangerous for them. The food plate also has other benefits such as it is easy to keep clean and your tortoise knows this is a dedicated area where he can always find food. Try to clear the food as much as possible once they finish eating.

The tortoise rock food plate is ideal also because it is an eco-rock slab close to nature and when they walk over it, it helps in grinding their nails and beaks easily which otherwise trimming their nails can be a difficult task to do.

Vitamins and Turtle Bones

Besides food, just like us humans, tortoises also need their regular dose of vitamins. Turtle bones are also good to have in your tortoise enclosure. They are a good source of calcium which is essential for your tortoise. Having one in their enclosure is also another way to help trim their beaks and avoid overgrown beaks.

It's good to get vitamin drops or sprays which you can use just 1-2 drops or one spray on their food. This in return will give them the essential vitamins and minerals they are missing out either from their diet or natural sources such as sunlight and water. Try not to be too generous with the vitamins as it can cause diarrhea so please ensure you put only the recommended amount mentioned on the bottle.

Pellet Foods

There are a lot of tortoise pellet foods available in the market, but from my experience and based on my conversations with the vet, natural foods are always best for your tortoise.

Water Dish

Always have a low easy-to-access water dish in their enclosure. This may be used by your tortoise to drink from or to defecate. Ensure you change this every day.


Tortoise Care and Hygiene

Give Them Weekly Baths

Once a week you can soak your tortoise in warm water. This is good for them in so many ways as it is a way for them to remoisten their skin, absorb the water in the cloaca and just to cool off. You could use a toothbrush and lightly scrub their shell to scrub off any dirt. Basically, you could call this their bath session to ensure your tortoise is clean and healthy.

Check for Shell Buildup

Tortoises breathe through their shells, so always ensure there is no build-up of oil or dirt that can block their oxygen transfer. There is no need to oil your tortoise, however, if you notice that their shell may be cracking or peeling off – you could gently wipe them down with a little coconut oil. Tortoise shells can heal themselves however coconut oil does help their shells become stronger and fight any fungi which you could probably use once a month.

Check Their Eyes

Try to observe your tortoise’s eyes when you can, they should be able to open and close their eyes easily. If the right temperature is not being maintained, you may notice that your tortoise’s eyes get dry and may tend to be sticky whereby making it difficult for them to open and close their eyes. As soon as you notice this ensure to get them tortoise eye care which will re-wet the eye with a sterile liquid. The main reason for this could be too much humidity or heat in their enclosure. Having his water bowl topped up from time to time will also help regulate the humidity in his home.

Keep an Eye on Them in the Enclosure

Tortoises can be very active and may climb things and fall over. Falling on their side is relatively okay as they learn eventually how to pull themselves down straight. However, if your tortoise falls upside down on his shell, as they grow, they learn to tackle that too but if you see this give them a helping hand and put them back straight. Tortoises breathe through their shells and if they are upside down for long it makes it hard for them to breathe which could be fatal. So if you do see them struggling pick them up and help them out.

Be Aware of Their Poop

Tortoises can get diarrhea which will be in white liquid form. When you see this, it is a sign that something in his diet you are giving hasn’t agreed with him.

I’ve encountered this situation once or twice and from my experience, it was when too much fruit is given. Try to give your tortoise only a little bit of fruit—maybe once a week or maximum twice a week. As much as they love their fruits, too much of it isn’t good for them.

The right balance of food, water, and care could go a long way in keeping your tortoise healthy.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


Mitchelle Peter (author) from Dubai, U.A.E on April 15, 2020:

Thank you, hes a keeper! :)

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 15, 2020:

Beautiful close up photos and detailed information. I don't have a tortoise. I just love them from afar. Nice article.

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