The Hermann’s tortoise has two visually distinct subspecies and Twycross Zoo has both. T.h.hermanni has a smaller shell and brighter coloured spots behind and under the eyes, whereas the T.h.boettgeri has a larger, dull coloured and flatter shaped shell with no bright spots. Their shells are a pale yellow with black-dark brown patterning. The males have a hardened tip on the tail, like a spur, used for mating.
The Hermann’s tortoise will hibernate through the colder winter months, waking in February to begin the mating season. During this time, the male will show his interest by ‘bullying’ the female, ramming and biting her.
The female will lay her eggs in a small, damp burrow between May and July. Although the eggs hatch in early September, the hatchlings will not emerge from the burrow until after the heavy rains that usually occur around that time. For the first four to five years they will stay close to the burrow as their shells remain soft and they are unable to defend themselves from predators. Their diet consists mainly of vegetation such as dandelions and clover.
The Hermann’s tortoise is classed as Near Threatened by the IUCN and is threatened by habitat loss due to urban development and wildfires. They are also collected for the pet trade, hunted for bush meat and traditional medicines.
- Conservation Status: Near Threatened
- Distribution: Southern Europe
- Habitat: Coniferous & Broadleaf Forests, Grassland, Scrublands
- Diet: Dandelion, plantain, sow thistle, grass and a variety of leafy greens
- Weight: Variable
- No. of young: 2 - 12
- Life Span: 50 - 70+ years