The Hermann tortoise is a fascinating and tranquil animal that many of us wanted to adopt as children. It is found in many Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey and in the Balkan region.
Its size can reach 30 cm for the female and 25 cm for the male. This species differs from the Greek tortoise by the presence of a supracaudal scale cut in half, and by the presence of a claw at the end of the tail. On the other hand, she does not have a horny spur on the thighs. The scales are slightly bumpy and brown and yellow in color.
Take care of your Hermann land turtle
Due to the growing scarcity of populations and to maintain biodiversity, the Hermann’s tortoise benefits from increased protection on the national territory. Only turtles from farms are authorized for sale.
It is important that you are well informed before deciding to adopt your first turtle, so that once by your side they are healthy and fully developed. Although autonomous, the turtle is not considered as a pet like the dog or the cat, it requires specific living conditions closest to nature.
The price of a Hermann turtle
Buying and keeping a Hermann turtle is regulated in France and in many countries. Only populations of animals bred in captivity are authorized for sale.
The price of a land turtle varies depending on size, age and sex. An adult female testudo hermanni boettgeri is priced at a higher price than a male specimen.
The Hermann turtle is a species of reptile that likes to live outdoors. The installation of a vivarium inside a house is possible, but can represent a more important investment.
This terrarium must in particular be equipped with a UVB lamp essential for its health and the proper development of its shell. But also a heating spot to have a sufficient temperature, a hiding place, some plants and a water container.
If you don’t have a garden, feeding a land turtle can be a big expense each year, as the food should always be fresh and varied. On the other hand, hibernation is a period of respite where a land turtle costs nothing.
Raising babies requires an artificial incubator in which future babies are placed. This type of product sold in pet stores or on the internet costs around 200 euros without including delivery.
The price of a Hermann turtle is between 130 and 700 euros, to which are added the costs of developing its habitat.
Build an enclosure for your Hermann turtle
A large enclosure can be a great natural habitat for your land turtle. It must be located in a place in your garden well exposed to the sun and have a shelter.
In order to prevent your reptiles from escaping, the wooden fence must be sufficiently sunk into the ground. A mesh placed on the top provides additional protection for your turtle against certain predatory animals, such as cats and dogs, birds or rodents.
The land turtle must be able to find a food part directly inside its park so as not to constantly depend on you. To ensure good health for your pet, the diet from your home garden should be rich in calcium, which is an essential nutrient for the formation of its shell.
Depending on the circumstances, a nesting area must be provided within the enclosure itself, where the ground is easier to dig.
If you do not want your young turtle to hibernate, it should be set up indoors in a terrarium equipped with a heat-emitting lamp and UVB tube. Depending on the species, the temperature inside should ideally be between 25 and 30 ° C.
To ensure proper development and full development, the enclosure of a Hermann tortoise should be as large as possible. The more space your land turtle has, the better it is for them.
Set up a terrarium for your Hermann turtle
The terrarium allows people who do not have a garden and cannot build an enclosure, to still adopt a turtle and provide it with a habitat that is favorable for its health. The larger the terrarium, the better your pet will feel.
While an aquarium may be suitable in some cases, closed and glass vivariums are most suitable for land turtles. They have the advantage of maintaining the heat produced by the heating bulb installed inside.
A species of reptile like the Hermann tortoise needs a temperature of around 25 to 30 ° C during the day, and 20 to 25 ° C at night. A UVB lamp is essential to simulate the sun’s rays and allow the synthesis of vitamin D.
The substrate can be of different natural materials, such as wood chips, coconut fiber or heather earth. The habitat must also consist of a few accessories, including a small house, a container of water, and some plants and rocks. The prices of the different products vary according to the quality of the finish.
Food should be fresh and offered daily. Hibernation and reproduction can take place in the Hermann tortoise terrarium provided you adapt its environment.
Hermann’s turtle diet
Hermann’s tortoise has a herbivorous diet and mainly eats plants.
The food of the land turtle consists of herbs, leaves, plants, vegetables and some fruits. The turtle is very fond of the dandelion flower which is very rich in calcium and vitamins. Combined with sun exposure in the garden park, these nutrients are essential for developing the shell structure of land turtles. On the other hand, phosphorus from certain foods must be supplied in small quantities to these animals.
For turtles installed in a vivarium, there are food supplements in granules. Before entering hibernation, the land turtle is a species that naturally stops feeding. In order for it to be in perfect health, it is therefore important that the diet of a Hermann tortoise is as rich and varied as possible.
Hermann tortoise food
The Hermann turtle is a terrestrial species of reptiles that feeds on grasses, leaves and plants from the garden directly accessible in its park. It also feeds on vegetables and flowers, but also occasionally on fruits that are offered to it.
Some pregnant female turtles need a large amount of calcium and vitamins. Plants rich in calcium and poor in phosphorus are those to be favored for young turtles still growing. For turtles that cannot hibernate and live in terrariums all winter, it is also advisable to feed them pellets in addition to their daily diet, in order to avoid possible deficiencies.
And like all animals, water is an integral part of the land turtle’s diet. These cold-blooded reptiles also need a sustained presence of the sun to raise their internal body temperature and stay fully active. The quality of the food of a Hermann turtle is therefore essential to ensure good health and well-being.
Having Hermann’s Baby Turtles
Breeding in captivity is possible if all the conditions are met. In France, depending on the number of animals kept, breeding is regulated and requires certain certificates.
Sexual maturity is acquired around five years old for the male, and at an older age for the female, around ten years old. Land turtles must also have experienced a period of hibernation during the winter.
After mating and laying, the eggs are placed in an artificial incubator heated to the right temperature. For this testudo hermanni species, the eggs hatch and the babies are born approximately 60 days later.
The food and habitat of young land turtles does not differ from that of adult reptiles. The food should simply be cut into small pieces. Babies eat leaves, flowers, some fruits and also drink water.
Calcium intake is also essential in order to promote the development of the baby’s shell.
The young turtles are installed indoors at night in a vivarium equipped with a lamp, and during the day in an enclosure in the garden, so that they can naturally enjoy the sun. Be aware that a baby Hermann turtle can completely hibernate in the first year of life.
Identify the sex of a male or female Hermann tortoise
The identification of the sex of a land turtle is only possible from its fifth year of existence. Before this age, the distinctive signs of Testudo hermanni are not sufficiently reliable. In some cases it is better to adopt an older specimen. Only a specialized veterinarian can identify a turtle at an early age.
The tail of the male species is longer than that of the female. While the female’s breastplate is hollow compared to that of her male partner, which is completely flat. This allows him when breeding to marry easily with his partner using his legs and claws.
The size of an adult male turtle is smaller than that of a female. In nature, the female does not reach sexual maturity until her tenth year, otherwise mating and spawning would not be possible. Turtles that have always lived in captivity in a terrarium can reach maturity early.
Being a cold-blooded reptile, the incubation temperature of land turtle eggs has a direct influence on the sex of future babies. Around 28 ° C they are mainly male specimens, while around 32°C they are mostly females. If you have the opportunity to incubate yourself, it would therefore be possible for you to predetermine the sex of a male or female turtle .
Preparing the hibernation of your Hermann’s tortoise
Each year as winter approaches, the Hermann tortoise is a species that slows down its metabolism and hibernates for a period of six months from October to March.
From September and as the heat decreases, the land turtle gradually stops feeding in order to completely empty its digestive system. Sometimes a vet check-up can be helpful at this stage. In France in its natural state, the turtle hibernates in a burrow that it digs. In the wild, the turtle is vulnerable to the cold and to predators.
In captivity, the turtle hibernates preferably in a box filled with dead leaves which ensures total protection. This wooden crate is placed in a cool, dry place in the house. The room temperature must be between 5 and 10 ° C.
Hibernation in the garden enclosure, in a terrarium or even in a refrigerator are possible options but require specific configurations. If you live in the south or in Corsica, outdoor hibernation is usually not a problem.
Below 5 ° C there is a significant risk of hypothermia. Above 10 ° C, the terrestrial turtle is still awake and depletes its fat reserves too quickly, its health is then in great danger.
It may be useful to check your pet’s weight occasionally while he sleeps to make sure that it has not decreased too much. The reptile awakens as soon as the temperatures inside the crate rise. Once out of hibernation, the Hermann turtle resumes its normal rhythm of life.
Know the age and size of a Hermann turtle
The size and weight of the Hermann tortoise differ depending on the subspecies. Thus the Testudo Hermanni Hermanni, a subspecies of turtle native to Corsica and the Maures massif located in mainland France, can measure up to 20 cm in length, and have a weight of about 1.5 kg. While the Testudo Hermanni Boettgeri is larger and can measure up to 30cm in adulthood and have a weight of around 2.5 kg.
The carapace of adult females is larger than that of male land turtles. This is necessary during the breeding season to contain the pregnant eggs until the moment of laying.
A diet too rich in protein and low in calcium promotes too rapid growth of this reptile , and is the cause of serious malformations that can sometimes require an operation at a veterinarian. In captivity, care must therefore be taken to ensure that the food, in particular the leaves and plants, is sufficiently rich in calcium.
A land turtle should also benefit from plenty of sunlight in its garden enclosure, or UVB if the animal is in an indoor terrarium.
A specimen which every year does not experience a period of hibernation has a continuous growth, the age and the size of the adult Hermann tortoise are reached more quickly.
The differences between the Greek tortoise and Hermann
Although these specimens look very similar, the Greek tortoise and the Hermann tortoise are two different species of reptiles that should not be mixed. It is therefore preferable to adopt one or the other.
The shape of the supracaudal scale which is located at the back of the backrest just above the tail, is the most characteristic sign to differentiate these two species.
From a certain age, the hermann turtle (testudo hermanii) has a horny spur at the end of the tail but not on the thighs, unlike the Greek turtle (testudo graeca) which has one only on the thighs. The length of the plastron of the male and the female is in the same proportions. Colors differ according to the subspecies, especially for the boettgeri.
In captivity these two species have a similar environment and needs. Herbivorous diet is made up of leaves and plants, not to mention water. The living conditions for breeding can be either a park in the garden or a terrarium, where the temperature requirement is around 25 to 30 ° C during the day. They both experience a period of hibernation each year. The reproduction and incubation parameters of the eggs are also the same.
In the wild and natural state these land turtles are very rare to find, one being in France in particular the other in Turkey. This is why in order to preserve the conservation status of these species and avoid the creation of hybrid species, under no circumstances should a Greek turtle breed with a Hermann turtle.