Animals

Did You Know? 21 Incredible Hermann's Tortoise Facts

One of the interesting Hermann's Tortoise facts is that they have beautiful yellow and black shells.
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The Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni) is a medium-sized tortoise with a distinct black and yellow patterned shell called the carapace. They are sometimes called dalmation tortoises for the black patterns on their shell. This tortoise is popular in the pet trade for its gentle personality and beautiful appearance. Another tortoise that has a distinctly patterned shell is the radiated tortoise.

The Hermann’s Tortoise is found throughout the Mediterranean region and is found in most European gardens. There are two distinct subspecies of this tortoise , the eastern Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni boettgeri) and the western Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni hermanni).

This tortoise is typically passive and gentle, only biting with its power when it feels threatened. It is most active in the day and likes to bask in the sun or dig and forage for food. In the afternoon heat, it likes to return to its shelter and come out when it's less hot. Like a lot of other tortoises, the Hermann’s tortoise also hibernates in the winter, emerging from piles of dead leaves in the spring. When kept as a pet, it needs to be carefully monitored before being encouraged to hibernate.

You'll find in this article information regarding Hermann's tortoise enclosure ambient temperature, Dalmatian tortoise species life, and Hermann's tortoise heat sensitivity.

You may also check out the fact files on the marginated tortoise and radiated tortoise from Kidadl.

Hermann's Tortoise

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Leafy greens, grass, wildflowers, fruit, worms, and snails

What do they eat?

Omnivores

Average litter size?

2 – 12 eggs

How much do they weigh?

7-9 lb (3-4 kg)

How long are they?

2.8 – 10.6 in (7 - 27 cm)

How tall are they?

NA

What do they look like?

Distinct black and yellow patterned shell, grayish-brown scaly limbs, and dark claws

Skin Type

Dry Scales

What are their main threats?

Destruction of habitat

What is their conservation status?

Near Threatened

Where you'll find them

Mediterranean meadows, evergreen and oak forests,and gardens

Locations

Southern Europe

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Reptilia

Scientific Name

Testudo hermanni

Family

Testudinidae

Genus

Testudo

Hermann’s Tortoise Interesting Facts

What type of animal is Hermann's tortoise?

A Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni) is a type of tortoise.

What class of animal does Hermann's tortoise belong to?

Hermann's tortoises are reptiles, just like the gopher tortoise.

How many Hermann's tortoises are there in the world?

There is no clear information about the total number of Hermann's tortoises in the world. This is because they are spread across a wide area and also kept as pets. However, the IUCN has recommended further research on the numbers because of the overall decrease in the population of Hermann's tortoises.

Where does a Hermann's tortoise live?

In the wild, Hermann's tortoises live in the meadows, rocky hillsides, and scrubby grasslands, as well as the evergreen and oak forests in the Mediterranean region. They are also found in most European and now even American gardens, indoor or outdoor enclosures as pets.

Other pet tortoises include the desert tortoise and the African spurred tortoise.

What is a Hermann's tortoise habitat?

The Hermann's tortoise’s habitat is filled with its favorite wildflowers, of which it eats both the flowers and the leaves. It digs and forages in meadows and on the forest floor for food in the day. Ideal ambient temperatures are between 59-95 F (15-35 C) with sufficient UVB light for activity and basking. They don’t need to be fully dry and are happy with about 25% humidity.

They can be found basking in the afternoons and return to their shelters if it gets too hot. Their shelters are usually hidden away behind bushes or hedges, and females prefer to nest in the forests in the wild.

Who does Hermann's tortoise live with?

Hermann's tortoises prefer to be solitary, except during mating season. During this time, male tortoises seek out females after hibernation when the temperatures rise.

How long does a Hermann's tortoise live?

There is no clear documentation of the lifespan of a Hermann's tortoise. When kept as pets, the Hermann's tortoise can easily reach over 50 years. Other tortoise species in the same genus Testudo, like the Russian tortoise, have reached over 120 years. We can assume that Hermann's tortoise’s natural lifespan could reach over 100 years too.

How do they reproduce?

Hermann's tortoises have a mating season soon after they emerge from hibernation. The males seek out the females around late February in the wild. Male high-pitched calls help the females pick a mate. After breeding, the females lay eggs in their nests like all reptiles. These nests are usually dug about 1-2 in (2.5-5.1 cm) underground in the soil.

After 90 days, the eggs hatch when temperatures are ideal and the babies climb out of the soil.

What is their conservation status?

Due to habitat destruction, diseases, pollution, and hunting, Hermann's tortoises have been given the conservation status of Near Threatened by the IUCN.

Of the two subspecies, the western Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni hermanni) is Endangered. In the wild, this species is found in southern France, Italy, and Spain, but is now under threat. The eastern subspecies (Testudo hermanni boettgeri) is more abundant.

Hermann's Tortoise Fun Facts

What does a Hermann’s tortoise look like?

Hermann’s tortoises have a hard bony outer shell which has yellow and black patterns on it. The rest of the body is grayish brown, with thick legs and hard scales. The males and females have a hooked upper jaw called a beak, dark claws on their feet, and their tails have a spike. This spike is called a spur. In some places, they are known as the Mediterranean spur-tailed tortoise because of their tails.

Female Hermann’s tortoises are usually larger than the males. Male Hermann’s tortoises have a longer tail than the females, with a larger spur. The females also appear to have more rounded shells than the males. The western subspecies tend to be smaller than the more commonly found eastern subspecies of Hermann’s tortoises.

Hermann’s Tortoises have hard shells, a curved beak, and scaly legs!

How cute are they?

These tortoises are about as cute as any other tortoises. They have very beautiful patterned shells.

How do they communicate?

All tortoises use smells, sounds, and visual cues to communicate with each other. They rely on smells to find food and each other. However, since they are solitary animals, they usually only seek each other for mating.

During mating season, the adult male Hermann's tortoise will make a lot of high-pitched noises, smells, and visual cues to attract adult females.

How big is a Hermann's tortoise?

Because of the distinct subspecies, there is a wide range in the sizes of Hermann’s tortoises. These tortoises can be anything between 2.8-10.6 in (7-27 cm).

In comparison, the Galapagos tortoises have an average length range of 48-60 in (121.9-152.4 cm). This means that Hermann’s tortoises are 17 times smaller than Galapagos tortoises!

How fast can a Hermann's tortoise run?

There is no documented information about how fast a Hermann's tortoise can run. Tortoises in general are not runners and they move very slowly.

How much does a Hermann's tortoise weigh?                                          

The average adult size of a Hermann's tortoise can be anything between 7-9 lb (3-4 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

All male tortoises are simply called males, and female tortoises are called females.

What would you call a baby Hermanns's tortoise?

All baby tortoises are called hatchlings.

What do they eat?

The Hermann's tortoise natural diet tends to include a lot of leafy greens and grasses. They prefer leaves of legumes and wildflowers. In the wild, they are also opportunistic carnivores, and snails or worms can become their food when necessary.

As pets, these tortoises are strictly herbivores. Their diet needs to be carefully monitored in captivity to ensure that they don’t eat flowers like buttercups, which are poisonous. They should also be fed a wide variety of greens for their health. They also need access to fresh water in their enclosures.

To ensure that all calcium they have in their diet is digested, UVB light should be available in their indoor or outdoor enclosures.

Are they poisonous?

No, Hermann’s tortoises are non-venomous and will not even bite unless they feel scared.

Would they make a good pet?

Hermann’s tortoises make excellent pets. The eastern subspecies are easily available and they are relatively easy to look after. They can easily recognize their owners. They can live indoors in enclosures, but should ideally live outdoors, especially in the summer when the temperatures are ideal. They prefer warmer temperatures and are most active then. They don’t need too much humidity. Most indoor and outdoor environments have enough humidity for your tortoise to be happy.

Hermann’s tortoises do need places to hide in like their shelters in the wild, and don’t do well in a completely open space. These hideaway enclosures can be caves or holes in trees. Hermann’s tortoises like to dig and need substrate in their enclosures. The substrate should be a mix of soil, sand, and cypress bark in indoor enclosures. This compost mixture substrate can also be used outdoors.

When indoors, these tortoises need access to sunlamps that provide heat and UVB lighting as they are reptiles who like basking. They need UVB light to synthesize vitamin D3. UVB light and vitamin D3 are also essential for calcium absorption. Since Hermann's tortoises tend calcium deficiencies in captivity, it is important to ensure that their warm and UVB lighting needs are met.

Hermann tortoises need about 12 – 14 hours of lighting time, up to 95 F (35 C) in temperature. They don’t need warm temperatures at night, especially not in indoor enclosures.  

Did you know...

Hermann tortoises don’t like being handled, but they will tolerate about 15 minutes of being touched three to four times a week. Be careful when picking them up out of their enclosures and wash your hands afterward. Generally, tortoises should not be kept in pairs as they tend to become aggressive.

Can Hermann's tortoises eat apples?

Hermann’s tortoises can be fed a variety of legumes, grasses, and even tomatoes. Their diet must be low in protein and rich in fiber and calcium.

Fruits are sometimes added to their diets, but only in small amounts and only when necessary. If you are considering giving your Hermann's tortoise an apple, please check with your veterinarian first. Fruits are not a natural part of this tortoise’s diet.

What's the easiest tortoise to care for?

The Hermann’s tortoise is among the easier tortoises to care for. Others include the Egyptian tortoise, pancake tortoise, leopard tortoise, and red-footed tortoise.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our snapping turtle and chameleon pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Tortoise coloring pages.

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