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Armenian Tortoise
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The Armenian Tortoise, at the Yerevan Zoo, Armenia.
Information
Common Name Araxes Tortoise
Range Armenia, mainly in semidesert habitats of Araks Valley, as well as in the Ijevan, Noyemberyan, and Shamshadin regions.
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Reptilia
Order Testudines
Family Testudinidae
Genus Testudo
Species T. graeca
Conservation Status
CRSpecies
Critically Endangered

The Armenian tortoise, or Araxes tortoise, (Testudo graeca armeniaca), is a subspecies of the spur-thighed tortoise.

Distribution

It can be found in Armenia, mainly in semidesert habitats of Araks Valley, as well as in the Ijevan, Noyemberyan, and Shamshadin regions.

Biota and Climate

It can be found in various habitats, including the dry steppes and grassy slopes of hills or mountains with bushes, forests, meadows, and fields. It avoids the saline soils and areas with thick vegetation.

Description

This turtle has a flattened carapace, dark brown and yellow-cream in color, with a height equal to half the length of the carapace. The "annual rings" are clearly recognizable. The "toes" on front legs are flat and adapted for digging. Its size varies from 20 to 23 cm.

Conservation

A concentration of 0.5 – 2.0 tortoises per hectare were registered in the Ijevan region. The approximate population in Armenia is a few thousand. Testudo graeca armeniaca is threatened with complete disappearance in the medium term; the harvest and the conquest of human habitats are real threats to its future. Nevertheless, it enjoys a protected area in the Khosrov State Reserve in Armenia. Specimens are kept in a number zoos of the world, in the Institute of Zoology of Armenia, and in the Center for Conservation of Biodiversity of the Institute of Botany of Armenia. Often, they are kept by terrarium keepers.

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