Tortoises

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John J

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Tortoises
« on: October 04, 2012, 10:41:25 AM »
I'm not sure if this really qualifies as Wildlife in the garden as tortoises are not native to Cyprus.
Our daughter teaches in a Private Secondary School in Limassol and a few years ago several of her pupils, for reasons known only to themselves, decided it would be 'cool' to have a tortoise. This craze, as they so often are, was very short-lived. In the case of one boy only as long as it took to find out that his new aquisition didn't swim when thrown into the pond. Apparently what he had really wanted was a turtle. Anyway, children soon began to turn up at school looking to re-house their, now, unwanted guests and threatening to let them loose or throw them into the nearest skip if unsuccessful. My daughter rescued 4 that, inevitably, ended up becoming 'Dad's' problem. I built a compound for them at the top of our field/garden. I had no idea how to determine the gender of tortoises but observation of their behaviour pointed to there being 2 of each sex. A couple of years went by until one day I spotted what appeared to be a pebble sprout legs and walk off. It was, of course, a baby tortoise about the size of a 2 euro coin. Since then we have over the years found eggs and another 5 or 6 babies.
The photo shows the latest, found just this week, alongside an egg that was left exposed. I took David's advice this time and used a 2 euro coin for size comparison.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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ritamax

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Re: Tortoises
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2012, 11:27:03 AM »
That is an amazing photo! How do you deal with your growing tortoise population? 
Hobbygardener (MGS member) with a rooftop garden in Basel and a garden on heavy clay with sand 600m from seaside in Costa Blanca South (precipitation 300mm), learning to garden waterwise

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John J

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Re: Tortoises
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2012, 04:39:17 PM »
The compound is fairly large, especially since I added an extension to the original. I incorporated a variety of places for them to shelter/hide/hibernate. Obviously it isn't weeded so is allowed to become overgrown and there is a large Bosea cypria bush at each end that overhang and add to the general tangle. Actually, it's quite difficult to find even the larger tortoises most of the time and as for the babies, you have to be really lucky to spot them. We do have fatalities as well, we've found 2 small, empty shells that have been picked clean by the ants at different times.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

Umbrian

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Re: Tortoises
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2012, 06:52:45 AM »
Lovely post John - I particularly liked your description of the "pebble" sprouting legs and walking off. :)
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.

GillP

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Re: Tortoises
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2012, 08:06:47 AM »
Here in the Languedoc Heman's tortoise is indigenous.  We have one living in our garden as do a few other people we know.  (One 82 year old claims to have the same tortoise that his grandmother knew in his)  We see her rarely but it's always a treat.  She wanders at will and seems to have a "territory" of about 100 sq metres
Gardening in the Languedoc, southern France.
Nursery proprietor

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Fleur Pavlidis

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Re: Tortoises
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2016, 07:57:08 PM »
I'm starting a new page on wildlife gardening in the MGS website, reprinting articles from the MGS journal and illustrating them with photos - many of them taken from the MGS Forum I hope you will be pleased to learn. Gill's Hermann's tortoise photo here is perfect for the purpose to illustrate an article on tortoises in the garden taken from the very first journal in 1995. What I can't find is a photo of the Greek or spur-thighed tortoise, Testudo graeca. (All the tortoises in my garden have long skirts, i.e. are marginated tortoises.) If any of our members has a photo of the Greek tortoise I'd be very grateful to have it.
MGS member, Greece. I garden in Attica, Greece and Mt Goulinas (450m) Central Greece

Hilary

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Re: Tortoises
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2016, 08:56:26 AM »
I had posted a photo of a tortoise in Athens,Keramikos on 22nd February, 2014.
I don't know its proper name
MGS member
Living in Korinthos, Greece.
No garden but two balconies, one facing south and the other north.
Most of my plants are succulents which need little care

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JTh

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Re: Tortoises
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2016, 01:21:18 PM »
We see tortoises quite often around our house in Greece, and I have several photos, but I am not quite sure which species we have, or if if they are all the same, they vary quite a bit. I have one possible candidate, but I have no photos of the thigh, so I can't say if it has spurs or not. The uppper shell seems to be quite high and domed, there are some large scales on the front legs and the there are distinct markings on the head This is way out of my field, if anybody could identify it, I would be happy. Next time I meet a tortoise I shall study it more closely.


Thie next one I believe is a Testudo hermanni (I have some photos showing divided supracaudal plate). The kitten kept a respectful distance, probably very wise.

Retired veterinary surgeon by training with a PhD in parasitology,  but worked as a virologist since 1992.
Member of the MGS  since 2004. Gardening in Oslo and to a limited extent in Halkidiki, Greece.

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Fleur Pavlidis

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Re: Tortoises
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2016, 05:56:37 PM »
Thanks for looking those out, Jorun. I'd like to use your T graeca candidate photo if you could send it to me as a jpg.
Thanks, Hilary. I'd already ear-marked your Keramikos tortoise as my Marginated tortoise photo. I like the way he's turning to look at you over his shoulder like a starlet.
I once watched from my kitchen window as a mean magpie tricked a tortoise. As soon as the magpie approached, the tortoise withdrew into its shell, so the magpie strolled away feigning disinterest. When the tortoise felt it was safe to go on his way the magpie nipped round and pecked him on the bum.
MGS member, Greece. I garden in Attica, Greece and Mt Goulinas (450m) Central Greece

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JTh

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Re: Tortoises
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2016, 06:38:10 PM »
The photo has been sent, Fleur.
A couple of years ago a hare and a turtle crossed the road up to our house at the same time, unfortunately, there was not enough time to get the camera out, but it certainly reminded me of Aesop's fable.
Retired veterinary surgeon by training with a PhD in parasitology,  but worked as a virologist since 1992.
Member of the MGS  since 2004. Gardening in Oslo and to a limited extent in Halkidiki, Greece.

Hilary

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Re: Tortoises
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2016, 08:16:14 AM »
Another tortoise photo.
One of my friends has dozens of tortoises in her garden.
This one has found a dried fig and is trying to eat it.
 
MGS member
Living in Korinthos, Greece.
No garden but two balconies, one facing south and the other north.
Most of my plants are succulents which need little care

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Fleur Pavlidis

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Re: Tortoises
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2016, 09:48:43 AM »
I'm sure he succeeded with the fig. Fig-seed filled tortoise droppings are a 'feature' of our garden during the season.
MGS member, Greece. I garden in Attica, Greece and Mt Goulinas (450m) Central Greece

Re: Tortoises
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2016, 11:02:42 PM »
A baby Hermann's tortoise, Testudo hermanni hermanni.

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John J

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Re: Tortoises
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2019, 10:50:30 AM »
The warm day has brought our 3 rescued tortoises out, although one got a bit camera shy and tried to hide. Also our 2 surviving babies.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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John J

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Re: Tortoises
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2019, 07:58:10 AM »
Three of our rescued tortoises taken this morning. We currently have 4 babies that we have found wandering around, they're small enough to escape from the compound, and we have no idea what to do with them long term!
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)