Habitat of Mediterranean Tortoises
Nature as our guide for keeping Mediterranean Tortoises
When keeping tortoises, it is very important to get to know how these animals live in their natural habitats. We should aim to replicate this natural model as much as possible, especially when setting up the housing for the animals living in our care. Many answers to our questions about general husbandry can be easily answered if we look at the natural tortoise habitats, for example, suitable food, substrates and hiding places.
I have always returned from my travels to countries with tortoise habitats, for example, Italy, Spain, France, Greece and Bulgaria, with inspiring impressions: vast areas of rocks, thick shrub growth, and, especially in spring time, landscapes adorned with glorious colourful flowers – places where tortoises enjoy natural and beautiful living conditions.
In stark contrast to this, I find tortoises kept in northern and central Europe living in dark, overheated, or too cold and draughty, containers with unsuitable substrates. I find foods that make them ill, I find that essential lighting such as UV and heat lamps are missing, animals that were purchased without prior planning, that were thoughtlessly given as present – tortoises that have to vegetate throughout their captive lives, physically weakened and suffering.
I have often seen that it is only after its purchase that some new keepers think about the care that their animal needs. So it is very important to check before you make the decision to buy a tortoise.
Some ways of husbandry (vivarium, house floor, balcony, lawn) do not convince me at all as I think that they do not suit these species in the long term. I would therefore like to show you my enclosures for Mediterranean Tortoises, which are naturalistically landscaped and therefore offer these wild animals a way of life close to their natural requirements, even when in human care.
Inside one of my tortoise enclosures (in April). This has been landscaped with numerous objects and a variety of foraging plants.