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Back to Education IndexThe Hermann's Tortoise (Testudo Herrmanni) is one of five tortoise species traditionally placed in the genus Testudo, three subspecies are known: the western Hermann's tortoise (T. h. hermanni), the eastern Hermann's tortoise (T. h. boettgeri) and Dalmatian tortoise (T. h. hercegovinensis).
The Hermann’s Tortoise can be found throughout southern Europe. The western population (T. h. hermanni) is found in eastern Spain, southern France, the Balearic Islands, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, south and central Italy (Tuscany). The eastern population (T. h. boettgeri) inhabits Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and Greece, while T. h. hercegovinensis populates the coasts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Montenegro.
Hermann's tortoises are small to medium-sized tortoises. Young animals, and some adults, have attractive black and yellow-patterned carapaces, although the brightness may fade with age to a less distinct grey, straw, or yellow coloration. They have slightly hooked upper jaws and, like other tortoises, possess no teeth, just strong, horny beaks. Their scaly limbs are greyish to brown, with some yellow markings, and their tails bear a spur (a horny spike) at the tip. Adult males have particularly long and thick tails, and well-developed spurs, distinguishing them from females.
Early in the morning, the animals leave their nightly shelters, which are usually hollows protected by thick bushes or hedges, to bask in the sun and warm their bodies. They then roam about the Mediterranean meadows of their habitat in search of food. They determine which plants to eat by the sense of smell. (In captivity, they are known to eat dandelions, clover, and lettuce, as well as the leaves, flowers, and pods of almost all legumes.) In addition to leaves and flowers, the animals eat small amounts fruits as supplementary nutrition.
Around midday, the sun becomes too hot for the tortoises, so they return to their hiding places. They have a good sense of direction to enable them to return. Experiments have shown they also possess a good sense of time, the position of the sun, the magnetic lines of the earth, and for landmarks. In the late afternoon, they leave their shelters again and return to feeding.
This page is about the ever popular Hermanns Tortoise (Testudo Herrmanni)
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