CZAAWE Resource Article

Nutrition and husbandry conditions of Palearctic tortoises (Testudo spp.) in captivity
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
2019
Authors 
Publication/Journal 
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Publisher 
ISBN 
1088-8705
Abstract 
Mediterranean and Russian tortoises (Testudo spp.) are popular companion animals (pets), despite ongoing controversy concerning privately keeping reptiles. The arguments used during these controversial discussions have often been based on outdated facts. Therefore, a survey was developed to evaluate the current population structure, husbandry conditions, diet regime, and health status of Testudo species in captivity. More than 75% of the 1075 respondents housed their tortoises in an outdoor enclosure containing a greenhouse or cold frame, which is considered the most species-appropriate way of husbandry. Of the respondents, 67.7% fed their tortoises with the optimum diet of more than 80% grasses and weeds during the summer vegetation period. Only 8.2% of respondents owned a tortoise with a diagnosed disease. According to the results, the likelihood of tortoises developing pyramidal growth syndrome, which can be used as an indicator of the quality of tortoise husbandry, was high in tortoises kept in a terrarium and/or fed a diet of less than 80% grasses and weeds in summer. This likelihood varied among species, with a higher incidence in Hermann?s tortoises (Testudo hermanni).