Hermann's Tortoise Care Sheet discussion thread

Status
Not open for further replies.

HermanniChris

Well-Known Member
TFO Sponsor
10 Year Member!
Joined
Sep 7, 2007
Messages
2,130
I've heard from a few that we should start posting cahe sheets on each species so here's one I have typed up on Hermann's tortoises. This should be locked in place in this forum so newbies see it right away.:D

-Chris

Hermann's Tortoises (Testudo hermanni)

Description: These tortoises belong to the genus Testudo meaning “turtle” in Latin. The Testudos also referred to as the Mediterranean tortoises are known as common European “garden” tortoises and are now widely available in the United States pet trade as captive bred hatchlings. Testudo hermanni the Hermann’s tortoise is a small to medium sized chelonian and is known for the hardened tip or spur at the end of the tail and lack of thigh tubercles. To date there are three recognized subspecies.

The western Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni hermanni) considered the nominate race, is the smaller and rarer subspecies. These animals typically attain smaller dimensions than their cousins and appear more attractive as well. The ground color they exhibit is a rich golden yellow to bright greenish yellow bordered by jet black bars, bands or blotches usually covering more than 50% of the carapace. There is a well defined “keyhole” symbol on the 5th vertebral scute just above the supracaudal shield and it is present in more than 95% of the animals I have observed. The head is rather snake or lizard like in appearance and is sleeker than the heads of the other subspecies. A bright yellow fleck or spot is clearly visible underneath and just behind each eye and this is present in almost all animals except for extremely old ones. The skin color resembles that of the carapace’s ground color but is usually darker and drabber. On the plastron there are two longitudinal jet black bands that are well formed and are only broken on the gular and anal scutes in some cases. The seam between the femoral scutes on the plastron is longer than that of the seam between the pectorals but in certain instances they can appear even. Rarely is the pectoral seam longer than the femoral. Females rarely exceed six inches while males may never surpass four; however larger examples have been recorded. The western Hermann’s tortoise is also known for being rounder and more domed in appearance when compared to the other subspecies. These animals are very rare in collections in the USA and finding pure bred specimens can prove to be quite difficult. They are no longer imported.

The eastern Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni boettgeri) is the larger more common race. These tortoises are duller in appearance and colors as well as markings can vary extremely. The ground color of the carapace is typically a horn color or can be brown, tan, yellowish, or cream colored. Black or dark brown bars, bands and/or blotches border the ground color. The 5th vertebral scute usually lacks the “keyhole” symbol but is found in some specimens especially captive bred ones and unusually attractive individuals. The head is bulkier with the eyes situated higher up and the yellow spot or fleck under each eye is usually absent. Skin color is dark and may be tan, brown or grey. The plastron exhibits the longitudinal black markings but they are faded, broken up often and nowhere near as well defined or prominent as in their western cousins. The seam between the pectoral scutes is usually longer than that of the femorals or they may appear even in various cases. Females typically reach seven to eight inches but extremely large ten inch plus females have been encountered in parts of the world such as Bulgaria. Males usually do not surpass six inches but larger animals are not unheard of. These tortoises have a flatter appearance and are more elongate than round. Eastern Hermann’s tortoises are very common in collections in the USA and it is not hard to find captive bred hatchlings. Sub adults are still imported into the country from time to time but large breeders are rarely encountered.

The Dalmatian Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni hercegovinensis) is a newly described subspecies and there is quite a bit of question surrounding them. They appear almost identical to the eastern Hermann’s tortoise and only a few small details separate the two. Carapacial ground colors as well as markings are the same as in the eastern race only it is said that the black pigment covers less than 50% of it. The yellow fleck or spot under each eye is present but not as bright as in the western race. The “keyhole” symbol is also visible on the 5th vertebral in this subspecies although I have seen many without it. The longitudinal black bands are present on the carapace yet they are nowhere near as clearly defined as in the western race but are more solid and uniform than in the eastern race. The pectoral and femoral scute seams are even in length and there is a sharp “U” shape that is formed by the top edges of the pectoral scutes. In the eastern and western race this shape is more of a “V”. Perhaps the most distinguishable characteristic of these tortoises is the absence of the inguinal scutes where the carapace meets the plastron just in front of each hind leg. The eastern and western races both exhibit the inguinal scutes but most Dalmatians do not. However, is has been recorded that Dalmatians may have both inguinals or in some cases just one. These tortoises are available in the USA pet trade but for most it is hard to differentiate them from their eastern cousins.

Sex: Sexual dimorphism is very apparent in Hermann’s tortoises. Males like most species of chelonian are smaller than females. They exhibit a concave plastron and a very long, thick tail. The vent is also further past the end of the plastron when compared to females. Males also appear more trapezoid in overall shape while females may be rounder or more elongated. Females have a shorter, stubbier tail and the plastron is flat. Both sexes exhibit the hardened tip or spur at the end of the tail and it is believed that males use this to stimulate the female’s cloacal region during courtship. It is unknown if it is of any use to females. Males can prove to be overly aggressive towards other males as well as females during breeding season. Females are usually very passive and only become aggressive when they are gravid or in very crowded conditions.

Distribution: These tortoises are found throughout southern Europe. Yugoslavia, Albania, Romania, Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria are all inhabited by the eastern race while the western race is restricted to Italy, France and Spain.

Habitat: Hermann’s tortoises are found in Mediterranean oak forest, rocky hillsides, pastures and scrub land. These areas include south facing slopes and the abundance of low lying shrubs and various edible weeds. Rocks, logs, grasses and shrubs are used for climbing, burrowing under and for creating scrapes as retreats for the tortoises to hide in and seek shade. These animals are not found in water and are poor swimmers and due to where they live, water is scarcely available. Hermann’s tortoises obtain most of their water through their diet and may drink from rain puddles as well.


Housing:
Hermann’s tortoises are best kept in outdoor enclosures where they can live in semi natural conditions. A well planted outdoor pen situated on well drained soil makes for a great captive environment for these tortoises. Do not construct pens on wet or moist areas and simply using a grassy lawn is not a good idea. Although Hermann’s tortoises prefer a bit more humidity in their environment than most other Testudo, they should never be subjected to damp situations. A variety of edible weeds to promote natural grazing is suggested as well as an array of decorations such as logs, rocks, slates, shrubs, African grasses and bushes for exercise, hiding and burrowing. Make sure to keep tortoises well protected from predators such as dogs, cats, ravens, raccoons, skunks, weasels, and overly curious children. A thick wire mesh screen should cover most if not all of the outdoor enclosure to keep invaders out.
Indoors these animals can be housed in large custom built units or “tortoise tables”. A substrate of aspen wood bedding is highly recommended or you can make your own 50% soil/50% sand mix. The latter can prove to be difficult to keep clean. UVB and UVA emitting bulbs should be used especially with hatchlings to help achieve proper growth and heat. Half logs, rocks or boxes with an entrance cut into them make great hide outs. Frequent warm baths are recommended for tortoises kept indoors to help with hydration and expelling waste build ups. Keep tortoises away from windows and doors leading to the outside in order to avoid harmful drafts. All glass aquariums do not make suitable homes for Hermann’s tortoises even for hatchlings. Rubbermaid containers work well or you can construct your own unit using wood.


Feeding:
Hermann’s tortoises require a diet rich in fiber and very low in protein. Commercial diets are usually safe for these animals but in moderation. When feeding hatchlings commercial tortoise foods pay close attention to growth because pyramiding can easily happen in young specimens. As stated before, allowing tortoises regular access to a variety of edible weeds, grasses and flowers induces natural grazing which in return promotes proper growth. Fruits should not be offered to these animals unless it is once in a blue moon. Romaine and red leaf lettuce are safe in smaller amounts while ice burg lettuce is not at all. A calcium supplement is recommended when feeding Hermann’s tortoises and these can easily be found in most pet stores world wide in the form of a powder. Cuttle bone commonly used for birds is a great source of calcium for these tortoises especially gravid females. The animals will simply gnaw at the brittle bone until they are satisfied. I feed my tortoises every other day and allow them to graze every day in the warmer months.

Breeding: There is no doubt that a hibernation or cooling period does lead to long term breeding success but it can and does happen without it. In the wild these tortoise wake up from their winter rest anywhere from March through May (depending on region) and nesting occurs from May through July. Males reach a peak in sexual activity immediately following their emergence from their hibernaculums and again several weeks prior to cooling down for the winter ahead of them. Females have been known to store sperm for quite some time and can produce a few years’ clutches from just one mating.
When engaging in courtship the male chases the female relentlessly biting at her legs and face. Shell ramming is not as common in this species as it is in other Testudo but it does occur. Once the female cooperates she will lift her self with her hind legs and allow the male to achieve successful copulation. The male mounts her from behind and curls his tail under where the vents will meet and mating begins. During copulation the male emits several high pitched squeaks and holds his mouth open with his tongue hanging out.

Gravid females become extremely restless when they are nearing nesting. They will continuously pace the perimeter of their enclosure in search of a proper nesting site. Females prefer south facing slopes with well drained soil to deposit their eggs and dig several test holes usually up to three days prior to the actual event.

Females of the eastern race typically lay four to six eggs in a single clutch. Larger and smaller clutches are also encountered. Females of the western race usually produce less with two to three eggs being in a single clutch. Females of both races have been known to double and even triple clutch in one season with anywhere from fourteen to thirty days in between nests.


Incubation:
Eggs laid in an outdoor enclosure or specially made indoor nesting box should be removed at once and placed in an incubator. Hovabators make great incubators and can be found in both pet and feed stores. An incubation medium of moistened but not wet vermiculite or perlite works best. I have had success with soil, sand, aspen bedding and sphagnum moss as well. Place each clutch in their own deli cup or small Tupperware with a few holes punched into the lid. Turning the eggs right after they have been laid will not cause any harm although once the embryo has begun to grow it is imperative that you do not turn them. The key to successful incubation of Hermann’s tortoise eggs to make sure you do not keep them too moist. I keep a large bowl of water in the incubator for the entire incubation period and only lightly spray down the individual deli cups occasionally. At a temperature between 84 and 91 degrees Fahrenheit the baby tortoises will emerge from their hard shelled eggs in about 55 to 62 days. Like most chelonians their sex is determined by the temperature the eggs are incubated at and higher temps will produce females, lower temps will produce males.

Hatchlings: Hatchling Hermann’s tortoises are quite small immediately following hatching and need time to straighten out. During the time they have been inside the egg they have basically been folded in half. When the babies leave the egg their movements are awkward until they achieve normal formation. The yolk sac is still visible for roughly a week and is the animal’s source of food for the first few days to a week of its life. Once the remainder of the yolk sac has been absorbed the babies usually begin feeding voraciously. They require the same diet as adults do but it may be necessary to cut their food in to tiny pieces to aid them in swallowing. A calcium supplement is very important in raising tortoises and should be provided at feeding time. A proper enclosure for hatchlings and juveniles should closely replicate that of the adults’ but on a smaller scale. I recommend keeping babies indoors until they are four inches in length to avoid losing them to over heating and predators such as birds and rats. Hermann’s tortoises in captivity can achieve sexual maturity in as little as five years for females and two years for males. It is suggested that you grow the babies slow like they would in nature to avoid pyramiding and other deformities. Be sure to give your hatchlings weekly warm baths.

Testudo hermanni hermanni:
[img=640x480]http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y25/Loonacris/Testudohermannihermanniportrait.jpg[/img]

Testudo hermanni boettgeri:
[img=640x480]http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y25/Loonacris/newfemaleboettgers.jpg[/img]

Testudo hermanni hercegovinensis:
[img=640x480]http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y25/Loonacris/herc.jpg[/img]


Hatchling Hermann's Tortoises:
babyitalianssoaking.jpg


Administrator's Note: The above information was compiled by an experienced person who breeds and owns said species. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, incidental, special or exemplary damages resulting from your use of this information.
 
L

lynncharlene

Guest
RE: Hermann's Tortoise Care Sheet

HermanniChris said:
I've heard from a few that we should start posting cahe sheets on each species so here's one I have typed up on Hermann's tortoises. This should be locked in place in this forum so newbies see it right away.:D

-Chris
That is great informationhand photos as usual. It will help me get my area ready for my new babies.

I have started working on the set up. I ordered some of the lights on the internet as well as mums, dandelions, etc. I can wait to get it all together. I just hope I have enough room for the torts when they get here. :D
 

HermanniChris

Well-Known Member
TFO Sponsor
10 Year Member!
Joined
Sep 7, 2007
Messages
2,130
RE: Hermann's Tortoise Care Sheet

I'm sure you'll do just fine Lynn, you sound like you have a great plan for them.:)
 

cvalda

New Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2007
Messages
1,639
Location (City and/or State)
Wisconsin
RE: Hermann's Tortoise Care Sheet

GREAT! I think Hermann's is going to be the next type of tort I track down for my obsession! ROFL!!!!!
 

Tortugo

New Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2008
Messages
34
RE: Hermann's Tortoise Care Sheet

Are the adults in the picture yours?
They are very beautiful..and perfect. Do you hibernate them?
;)
 

HermanniChris

Well-Known Member
TFO Sponsor
10 Year Member!
Joined
Sep 7, 2007
Messages
2,130
RE: Hermann's Tortoise Care Sheet

Thanks Kelly:)

Tortugo, yes those adults are mine. I do hibernate them all from March 1st until the last week of April. I then wake them up, put them in their outdoor enclosures and leave them out until early October. I then bring them indoors and keep them awake and warm until right about this time of year when I begin artificially cooling for their hibernation which starts on March 1st.

You can see some more of my animals here:

http://community.webshots.com/user/loon1103
 

JustAnja

New Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2007
Messages
1,539
Location (City and/or State)
Arkansas
RE: Hermann's Tortoise Care Sheet

Josh dont forget to sticky this to the top of the forum please!
 

HermanniChris

Well-Known Member
TFO Sponsor
10 Year Member!
Joined
Sep 7, 2007
Messages
2,130
RE: Hermann's Tortoise Care Sheet

ahhh that's what meant "sticky"...not locked haha.
 

TestudoGeek

New Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Messages
389
Location (City and/or State)
Lisbon, Portugal
RE: Hermann's Tortoise Care Sheet

Way to go Chris!

So does anyone have anything to add to this? LOL
 

T-P

New Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2007
Messages
418
Location (City and/or State)
Coventry, England
RE: Hermann's Tortoise Care Sheet

Very good!

How come a THH or THB cannot live together, even though theyre both hermanns?
 

HermanniChris

Well-Known Member
TFO Sponsor
10 Year Member!
Joined
Sep 7, 2007
Messages
2,130
RE: Hermann's Tortoise Care Sheet

I do not recommend keeping Thh and Thb together mainly because I am fully against cross-breeding and hybridizing. We are just barley sratching the surface with getting people to understand the difference between Hermann's tortoises but many are still buying Thb thinking they are getting Thh. The two subspecies very easily breed with each other and for years a few breeders have been offering these cross-breeds as pure Thh. This ruins the bloodline and fertility rates drop significantly.

Other reasons are:
Testudo hermanni hermanni males are known to be quite agressive. Even though many are very small, they ram constantly and inflict nasty bites on cage mates both males and females. Here is the link to a video I have posted where a Thh and Thb of mine battle and they were only just introduced to each other:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyUstgg3YHY

Testudo hermanni hermanni are more susceptible to diseases and at times may not be as hardy as Thb. This is a slightly more fragile tortoise and it has been noted that they can catch something from another animal rather quickly.

Testudo hermanni boettgeri is by nature, usually a much larger animal. Some adult females are very large. This may intimidate a group of Thh and cause mainly females to hide and not venture out to feed, thus leading to disease.

Females of both Thh and Thb have been known to fight especially while they are gravid. Here is another video of some of my Thh showing a very angry female beating up on her cage mates.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FItJ44ijcuU&feature=user

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMEljtHSwYY&feature=user

Keepers are also newly able to differentiate Testudo hermanni boettgeri from Testudo hermanni hercegovinensis. Many do not even know that they may have hercegovinensis. This makes it possible that if you are already mixing Thh with Thb, you may even have a third subspecies mixed in with the possibility of you having a hercegovinensis.
 

cvalda

New Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2007
Messages
1,639
Location (City and/or State)
Wisconsin
RE: Hermann's Tortoise Care Sheet

what temps for basking, ambient temp, and nighttime temps???
 

HermanniChris

Well-Known Member
TFO Sponsor
10 Year Member!
Joined
Sep 7, 2007
Messages
2,130
RE: Hermann's Tortoise Care Sheet

Night time temps can drop low into the 60's sometimes lower. Indoors I let them drop to whatever the room is at night. Basking temp I keep in the high 90's and ambient temp 75-80.
 

Tatooineboy

New Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2008
Messages
126
RE: Hermann's Tortoise Care Sheet

How high can the basking spot be for Hermann hatchlings? Thanks!
 

Edita

New Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2008
Messages
41
RE: Hermann's Tortoise Care Sheet

hi...

I hope nobody will get mad but ppl Yugoslavia doesn't exist for last 15 years!!! I know cause my country was a part of it... so when you talk about where T. hermani hermani lives you should be more precise... like Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina....
 

HermanniChris

Well-Known Member
TFO Sponsor
10 Year Member!
Joined
Sep 7, 2007
Messages
2,130
RE: Hermann's Tortoise Care Sheet

you mean T. hermanni hercegovinensis, not hermanni hermanni.
 

Granolagal

New Member
10 Year Member!
5 Year Member
Joined
May 10, 2008
Messages
112
Location (City and/or State)
Ontario, Canada
RE: Hermann's Tortoise Care Sheet

LOL..too fun. Thanks so much for your postings Chris! It was in searching about the hermann's that I happened upon your wonderfully informative and sensical sheets, and of course this site :D. I have checked out your amazing tortoises on suggested websites and am in awe of them. I was just curious as to whether you preferred the thh to the thb, simply due to appearance or if there is something else that makes them more appealing to you? I think that both are wonderful animals, and if it is meant to be perhaps I will have a little colony of thb in the future...not sure when/if they will be/are available in Canada.

Cheers and thanks loads for the info.!
ps when it comes time to hibernate, I might be feeling the need to pester you as it terrifies me :rolleyes:
 

HermanniChris

Well-Known Member
TFO Sponsor
10 Year Member!
Joined
Sep 7, 2007
Messages
2,130
RE: Hermann's Tortoise Care Sheet

My favorites of any tortoise or turtle are the Thh. There's just a million things about them it seems, that has made me dedicate myself to them. Of course I do all I can for all my tortoises and turtles but I absolutely adore the Thh. It took me YEARS and plenty of $$ to find real pure bred adults here in the U.S. but it was more than worth it. I love my Thb as well and Mediterranean tortoises as a whole are my main focus, with Thh being my main "thing".

Glad you like the posts and the photos and feel free to ask away when you have questions. If I don't get to it quick enough, someone on here will and they'll do a great job.

Check out my website if you'd like to see more Thh and Thb photos, www.gardenstatetortoise.com
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top