Chordates •

Marginated tortoise

(Testudo marginata)



The marginated tortoise (Testudo marginata) is a species of tortoise in the family Testudinidae. The species is endemic to Greece, Italy, and the Balkans in Southern Europe. It is the largest European tortoise. The marginated tortoise is herbivorous, and hibernates for the winter. The marginated tortoise is the largest European tortoise, reaching a weight of up to 5 kg (11 lb) and a length of 35 cm (14 in). Its shell is oblong and has a notable thickness around the middle of the body. The posterior end of the shell has a saw-like formation, flanged outward like a bell. The carapace of an adult specimen is almost completely black, with yellow highlights. The ventral shell is lighter-coloured and has pairs of triangular markings with the points facing the rear of the animal. The front sides of the limbs are covered with large scales. In an old female specimen, the rear flaps of the underside of her plastron is somewhat moveable. The tail is notable for a lengthwise marking and for an undivided carapace over the tail. The male has a longer tail, which is thicker at the base than the female's. The underside is more strongly indented. Males are also often larger than the females. The females lay their hard-shelled spherical eggs in the soil in May and June. The natural range of the marginated tortoise is southern Greece, from the Peloponnesus to Mount Olympus. They are also found in isolated zones of the Balkans and Italy, and northeastern Sardinia. The marginated tortoise lives in more mountainous regions than Hermann's tortoise. It can be found in elevations as high as 1,600 m (5,200 ft). The black color of the carapace is helpful for survival in this environment, as it allows the tortoise to absorb a great deal of heat in a short time, helping it maintain its body temperature. Early in the morning, marginated tortoises bask in the sun to raise their body temperature, and then search for food. After feeding, the tortoises return to their shelters in the hot midday hours, leaving them again in the late afternoon.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Reptilia
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