The spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca ibera) is small to medium in size–about the size and shape of a pineapple. The shell is slightly elongated with slight flares around the rear legs. Tortoises can be light yellow-green in color to a dark gray-black. This species is quite common in western Turkey and appears in various subspecies throughout the Aegean and Mediterranean. The species in general (Testudo graeca) is also referred to as the Greek tortoise.
There is something timeless about tortoises. They have an air of ancient wisdom. Their ancestors waded through primordial swamps before the dinosaurs. The fact that they wander now through the ruins of long-gone human civilizations seems appropriate. In many places around the world tortoises are not protected, not honored, and instead are snatched from their homes to appease a misguided human desire to own them.
During the 20th century, the spur-thighed tortoise was one of the most popular tortoises in the European pet trade. Countless individuals were collected from the wild and some regional populations were completely depleted. Fortunately this practice was made illegal toward the end of the last century. Combined with the Turkish culture which considers it bad luck to kill a tortoise, legal regulation has helped some populations recover.
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