The rounded carapace (to 22 cm) is about as wide as it is long. The sides are not abruptly descending. The carapace ranges in color from light brown to yellowish brown with extensive dark-brown pigment on each scute. The plastron lacks the movable hinge between the abdominal and femoral scutes that is common in other Testudo species. Plastron is black with yellow seams. Head is moderate with a nonprotruding snout and a hooked, usually tricuspid upper jaw.
Ranges from the Caspian Sea in southeastern Russia through Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and western Baluchistan. Found in a variety of dry habitats, ranging from rocky deserts, sandy and loamy steppes, to rocky hillsides. Often occur in oases, along brooks, and near springs near lush vegetation.
In northern range, will hibernate. Will estivate during the summer heat.
Mate in the spring. Nests are dug in June, hatching in August or September. In the north, may overwinter in the nest. Up to four clutches of 3 to 5 elliptical (41-50 X 26-35 mm) hard smooth eggs. Hatchlings have rounded carapaces (29-34 mm).
Eats only vegetation: grasses, flowers, fleshy leaves of plants, and fruits. Probably don't drink in nature, getting all their water from their food.