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Mediterranean Tortoise Care

By: Dr. Steve Divers

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Sexing

Confirmation of gender requires a close examination of the tail length. Although females are often larger than males, males have significantly larger tails.

Breeding

Breeding has been reported from 4 years of age but it is better to allow animals to mature slowly and breed from 8 to 10 years. Reproductive success appears to be enhanced by a hibernation period lasting at least 2 to 3 months.
Male courtship consists of biting the female's head and limbs and if excessive, separation may be required to prevent serious trauma. The female requires a soil substrate in which to dig and bury her 3 to 12 eggs. Failure to provide an appropriate nesting site is a common reason for egg retention.

Eggs should be artificially incubated at 60 percent humidity. The gender of the offspring is determined by incubation temperature.

Incubation temperature - Outcome

  • 79 F (26 C) - incubation ineffective
  • 79 to 85 F (26 to 29.5 C) - all male offspring hatching after 75 to 140 days
  • 86 to 90 F (30 to 32 C) - male and female offspring hatching after 65 to 80 days
  • 90.5 to 91.5 F (32.5 to 33 C) - all female offspring hatching after 65 to 70 days
  • 93 F (34 C) - deformed hatchings and high mortality rate

    Care of the babies is similar to adults, except that food must be finely chopped.

    Common Diseases and Disorders

  • Metabolic bone disease (lack of sunlight/UVB, low dietary calcium)
  • Intestinal parasitism (Ascarid worms and protozoa)
  • Oculonasal diseases e.g. rhinitis and conjunctivitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Cutaneous abscesses
  • Eye trauma and corneal ulceration
  • Ear (tympanic) abscess
  • Stomatitis (mouth rot)
  • Trauma (falling/dropping, lawnmower, dog/fox/rat/racoon attacks)
  • Shell osteomyelitis (shell rot)
  • Egg retention (dystocia)
  • Cloacal or penal prolapse

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