Skip to main content

Mediterranean tortoise

Testudo graeca

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 1970s and 1980s 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.

There is an EEP for this species and it is listed under Appendix II of CITES

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

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

IUCN red list status

The IUCN status of the Mediterranean tortoise is near threatened.

The IUCN status of the Mediterranean tortoise is near threatened.

For more info on classifications visit

  Fun fact Tortoises can’t swim

Animal class


Conservation status

Believed to be a risk of extinction in future, with threats from habitat destruction, the pet trade, hunting for meat and shells.


Grasslands and forest – found in North Africa, Southern Europe and the Middle East.


Exact figures are unknown, but the population of the Mediterranean tortoise is thought to be declining rapidly.


Herbivore – eats leaves, fruit and other plant materials