Tortoise Glossary Terms

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Glossary Terms:  T

Taxonomic group:   

Breaks the biological name down into two groups to become more specific e.g. Testudo graeca.


The science of classification.  The study of the naming of biological organisms.  The scientific name of an animal e.g. Testudo.


Latitudes where summer and winter seasons are experienced. 

Temperature gradient: 

Temperature range provided for tortoises to thermoregulate, i.e. for it to regulate its internal (core) body temperature. 

Tent tortoise:   

Psammobates tentorius.


A fresh water aquatic chelonian.


Name given to the container for keeping terrestrial reptiles.


Living on the ground.   An animal that spends most of it’s time on the ground – not aquatic.


A pattern of behaviour used to defend a specific area.


The Mediterranean tortoises.

Testudo graeca (T.g.): 

Greek tortoise.

Testudo graeca flowerii:   

Golden Greek tortoise – see also T.g. terrestris.

Testudo graeca graeca:   

North African greek tortoise/ spur-thigh.

Testudo graeca ibera: 

Spur-thigh tortoise; Greek tortoise.

Testudo graeca terrestris:   

Middle Eastern spur-thighed tortoise/Golden Greek - see also    t. g. flowerii.

Testudo graeca zarudnyi:   

Iranian spur-thighed tortoise.

Testudo hermanni:   

Hermanns tortoise/Herman’s tortoise.

Testudo hermanni hermanni:   

Sub-species of Testudo hermanni.

Testudo hermanni robertmertensi:   

Sub-species of Testudo hermanni.

Testudo horsfieldii:   

Agrionemys Horsfieldii; Horsfield tortoise/Russian tortoise.  Also called Central Asian tortoise, Steppe tortoise, Four-toed tortoise, Afghan tortoise. Formerly classified (and still referred to by some) as Testudo horsfieldii.

Testudo kleinmanni:   

Egyptian tortoise.

Testudo marginata:   

Marginated tortoise.

Testudo nabeulensis:   

Tunisian tortoise.

Testudo robertmertensi: 

Term no longer in use for sub-species of Testudo hermanni (hermanni hermanni).

Testudo tabulate:   

Brazilian tortoise.

Testudo werneri:   

Negev tortoise.

Testudo whitei:   

Texas tortoise:   

Gopherus berlandieri.

Thermal gradient:   

A gradual change in temperature from one part of the tortoises living area to another.


An instrument used to record temperature.


To adjust and or control temperature.  Process in which the tortoise will move to warmer or cooler places to regulate its body temperature and metabolism.


A devise used to control temperature accurately.


A species that is not yet endangered, but is in danger of becoming endangered.  A species that appears on Appendix II of the Endangered Species Act.


Relating to surface application i.e. applied externally.


The uppermost layer of soil, usually the top 15-20 cm with no added fertiliser.  Mixed with sand in a 50:50 ratio provides an ideal substrate for tortoises.


Terrestrial chelonians: a) any of various terrestrial turtles, esp. one of the family testudinidae, characteristically having thick club-like hind limbs and a high rounded carapace; b) (Chiefly British terminology) – a terrestrial or freshwater chelonian.

Tortoise Protection Group (TPG):

A group who are devoted to the promotion of good chelonian husbandry and whose aim is to campaign for a ban on the importation of tortoises bound for the UK pet trade.
Tortoise table:   An enclosed living area which should replicate the tortoises’ natural living environment.

Tortoise Trust (TT):

The Tortoise Trust is the world's largest tortoise and turtle organization.  A site dedicated to the conservation and captive care of Chelonians.

Toxic plants:   

Poisonous foods which should be excluded from a tortoises diet and grazing areas.


A substance which is dangerous and or poisonous when ingested.


Damage to the body of the tortoise from a wide range of sources e.g. attacks by dogs, foxes, rats or accidental damage from lawnmowers or by dropping.

Travancore tortoise:   

Indotestudo travancorica.


Refers to a breeding group, usually 1 male and 2 females.


Pertaining to equatorial regions where winter and summer seasons are not experienced.

Tube feeding:   

A method used to administer nutritional fluid directly into the stomach by use of a tube and a syringe.


The spur on a tortoise thigh.

Tunisian tortoise:   

Furculachelys nabeulensis.


Semi-terrestrial chelonians and marine chelonians.  Sometimes the term is used interchangeably with tortoise.


Relating to the ear.


The original specimen upon which a species is erected.

Type species:   

The species designated as the type of a genus or sub-genus.




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