ISSN 2398-2985  

Hermann's tortoise


Vetstream Ltd

Siuna Ann Reid

Synonym(s): Testudo hermanni


Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia.
  • Phylum: Chordata.
  • Class: Reptilia.
  • Order: Testudines.
  • Suborder: Cryptodira.
  • Family: Testudinidae.
  • Genus: Testudo.
  • Species: hermanni.

Distribution and habitat

  • The Hermann’s tortoise can be found throughout southern Europe.
  • T. h. hermanni is found in Spain, France, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and central Italy.
  • T. h. boettgeri is found in Italy, the Balkans, Turkey and Greece.
  • These tortoises are active during the day and spend time basking in the sunshine.
  • They tend to be more active earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon.
  • After spending the winter months hibernating, they emerge from under bushes in late February.

Species status

  • The Hermann’s tortoise has been listed under the IUCN as near threatened. This is due to habitat destruction and poaching for the pet trade.

Life span

  • Young tortoises are vulnerable to predators and can fall prey to rats, wild board, badges, foxes, magpies and more.
  • As they mature, predators are less of a threat as they cannot get through their tough shell, however the lifespan can vary from 70-120 years with correct care and nutrition.


  • Mainly leafy greens, legumes, grasses and clover Chelonia nutrition.
  • Adding calcium and vitamin D3 supplements in captivity is advised. Follow the manufacturers guidelines at all times.


  • Occurs after hibernation, around late February.
  • The females are bitten on the legs by the male before being mounted.
  • Females dig nests into the soil to lay eggs into. More than one clutch is usually laid each season Chelonia reproduction.
  • Incubation lasts around 90 days.
  • Temperature determines the sex of the hatchlings; incubating at 30-31°C/86-87.8°F will produce mixed sex, whilst temperatures over 31°C/87.8°F will produce predominantly female offspring, and lower temperatures will produce males.
  • All hatchlings will spend their time near the nest site at least until their carapace has fully developed.

As pets

  • Very common.
  • The correct housing must be provided including a UVB day lamp.


  • To ensure a successful hibernation period, the tortoises can be kept in a dark place with a thick layer of dry substance Hibernation/brumation.
  • The temperature should be around 5°C/41°F.
  • Full grown tortoises can hibernate for up to 4 or 5 months at a time.
  • Care should be taken to ensure rodents cannot get into the tortoise whilst in hibernation.


  • Eggs will take around 120 days to hatch.
  • Breeding takes place after hibernation, usually in February.


  • Ensure the diet is based mainly on leafy greens; additions can be greens, grasses, flowers and small amounts of fruit.
  • Diet supplementation will provide optimum nutrition; supplements include calcium, vitamins and minerals.
  • Always follow the manufacturers guidelines on dosage to avoid over/under supplementation.

Biological Data

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Petopedia (2018) All About Hermann’s Tortoises. Website: Last accessed 30th January 2018.
  • Northampton Reptile Centre (2018) Hermann’s Tortoise Care Sheet. Website: Last accessed 30th January 2018.
  • Pollock C (2015) Basic Information Sheet: Hermann’s Tortoise. Website: Last accessed 14th July 2018.
  • Chitty J & Raftery A (2013) Biology. In: Essentials of Tortoise Medicine and Surgery. Wiley-Blackwell, UK. pp 25.
  • Chitty J & Raftery A (2013) Follicular Stasis. In: Essentials of Tortoise Medicine and Surgery. Wiley-Blackwell, UK. pp 200-201.
  • Chitty J & Raftery A (2013) Generalised Oedema and Anasarca. In: Essentials of Tortoise Medicine and Surgery. Wiley-Blackwell, UK. pp 248-249.
  • Chitty J & Raftery A (2013) Soft Tissue Masses. In: Essentials of Tortoise Medicine and Surgery. Wiley-Blackwell, UK. pp 233.
  • Lavender L (2012) Testudo hermanni. Website: http://animaldiversity.orgLast accessed 15th July 2018.
  • Mosier J (2009) Hermanns Tortoise Pet Care. In: Unusual Pet Care Volume 3. 3rd edn. Zoological Education Network Limited, USA. pp 92-95.
  • Vitt L & Caldwell J (2009) Reproduction and Reproductive Modes. In: Herpetology - An Introductory Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles. 3rd edn. Elsevier, UK. pp 122.
  • van Dijk P P, Corti C, Mellado V P & Cheylan M (2004) Testudo hermanni. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Website: Last accessed 15th July 2018.
  • Marschang R & Chitty J (2004) Infectious Disease. In: BSAVA Manual of Reptiles. 2nd edn. Eds: Girling S & Raiti P. BSAVA, UK. pp 331.
  • O'Shea M & Halliday T (2002) Reptiles. In: Reptiles & Amphibians. Ed: Avery R. Dorling Kindersley, UK. pp 56.

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