Known for its mellow personality and striking appearance, these tortoises are a great pet for adults and children alike. They do best in a temperate environment, and they need plenty of space to roam around and get their daily exercise.
But don’t worry, I’ll give you all the information you need to make this guy feel at home. So, keep reading to find out more about Hermann’s Tortoise. From appearance to housing and feeding, I got you covered!
This tortoise looks really cool due to its contrasting patterns. It has thick scales and strong, greyish brown legs. Its dome-shaped shell comes in a beautiful combo of yellow-orange and dark brown. Younger tortoises sport brighter colors, but the colors become duller with age. The eastern subspecies have a lower-domed shell, while their western counterparts have a higher dome.
Their tails have a tip closely resembling a nail or a claw. Adult males generally have a longer and thicker tail than females. They’re somewhere between small to medium-sized. They reach an average length of 12 to 23 centimeters and can weigh up to 2.5 kilograms when fully matured. Eastern species are larger than the western ones, and they may reach a weight of up to 4 kg.
These tortoises are gentle and peaceful, and they’ll only bite if they feel threatened. If your tortoise feels unsafe, it won’t hesitate to attack other tortoises, pets, and even humans to defend itself!
Other than that, these tortoises usually don’t mind the company of other tortoises or pets. Speaking of feeling unsafe, this tortoise doesn’t like being handled or lifted off the ground. Who would have thought? Actually, compared to other tortoises, this one isn’t enthusiastic about climbing either.
In their natural habitat, these tortoises spend quite a lot of time hibernating. They hibernate throughout winter, and can even spend most of their time sleeping during the warm summer months. At night and during periods with high temperatures, they go hide in their shelters. They come out early in the morning while the temperatures are still mild.
Like other tortoises, their main activities consist of foraging, eating, basking in the sun, digging, roaming and exploring. They’re usually mellow creatures, but they can become agitated and violent during mating season. For this reason, you should house female and male tortoises separately, unless you intend to mate them.
Remember, good living conditions are key to a happy, healthy life! This applies to any animal species, tortoises included!
The great news is that this species of tortoise has a rather wide lifespan range of 30-75 years, with many tortoises living even longer than that! It’s a bit tricky to provide indoor care for this one, but if you create the right environment and provide a suitable, nutrient-rich diet, your pet tortoise should live a long life!
General Care & Housing
This is where the fun stuff begins. Before you get a pet tortoise, you need to be prepared in advance. The housing and environment are the most important parts for your pet’s physical and mental wellbeing.
While Hermann’s Tortoise does best outdoors in a temperate climate, you can still simulate the suitable living conditions indoors. How do you do that? Let’s see! I’ve put together a list of instructions for you. First things first…
Tortoises are ectotherms. Unlike other animals, they don’t regulate their body temperature internally through metabolic heat and sweating. This means that they need an external source of heat to keep their body temperature up.
If you keep your tortoise outside, the temperature should never fall below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Daytime temperatures in a natural environment should fall between 80-86 degrees Fahrenheit.
For tortoises kept indoors, the same temperature ranges apply. So, try applying these temperatures for your tortoise’s tank. You can use a heating lamp and a thermometer to make sure that the temperatures don’t go above or below this range.
Besides a source of heat, your tortoise also needs a shaded area to hide and cool down when its body temperature rises too much. This applies equally, whether you house your tortoise outside or inside.
Unlike other species, this tortoise isn’t especially fussy in this regard. Hermann’s Tortoise needs an environment with a humidity of at least 25% or higher. Depending on where you live, both indoor and outdoor spaces are suitable. Just to be safe, you can buy a hygrometer to check the humidity level in your home.
If you think the ambient moisture isn’t sufficient, you can also use a humidifier. Another way to increase the humidity in the tank is to add ambiental plants like moss, but make sure to change the moss regularly.
Otherwise, you might expose your tortoise to harmful bacteria. It might take a bit of tweaking, but as long as the humidity level doesn’t fall below 25%, your tortoise should be fine. However, hatchlings might require a higher humidity level compared to adults.
– Cage Size
If kept indoors, these tortoises need sufficient space for their daily activities. Your cage should be at least 122 by 122 centimeters. But the more space, the better! The walls should be at least 45 centimeters high. That’s to keep the tortoise from climbing and falling over the edge.
Make sure you include plenty of rocks, plants, sticks, and other toys to simulate the tortoise’s natural habitat and to encourage physical activity.
Your tortoise will need special areas for hiding and soaking. Add a shallow pan of water where your tortoise can come to drink and cool off. Make sure the pan is stable and low enough for your tortoise to climb in without toppling it or without falling over.
The substrate should be suitable for digging, so use a combination of sand and soil if possible and make sure it’s at least 5 centimeters deep.
Whether kept outdoors or indoors, all tortoises require UVB light for the synthesis of vitamin D3. This nutrient is crucial for the health of their bones and carapace, and it cannot be obtained from diet alone. For this reason, your tortoise needs daily UVB light exposure. The outdoor sun should provide enough light for healthy vitamin D3 levels.
For tortoises housed indoors, you should use a UV lamp to simulate natural sunlight. Your enclosure should include a fluorescent UVB light and a reflector for spreading the light down. Create a basking spot where your tortoise can come to sunbathe. A bed of flat rocks is perfect for that!
Food & Nutrition
A healthy Hermann’s Tortoise should eat a lot of plant foods as part of an optimal diet. Calcium is essential for the proper development of the bones and shell, so make sure you offer calcium supplements to your tortoise.
Greens rich in vitamin A are also good for your tortoise. Its nutrition should be diverse and thorough, with an emphasis on plant matter. Meat protein is also good but in lower amounts.
As with any other tortoise species, the focus with Hermann’s Tortoise should be on greens and vegetables, with fruit making up a smaller part of the diet. Fruits are good as a treat and as a source of vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and antioxidants.
Dark leafy greens and grasses are great sources of magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, iron, and more. Make sure to offer your tortoise a variety of greens to keep things exciting.
Other great additions to include in your tortoise’s diet are broccoli, cabbage, cucumber, carrots, and cauliflower. Spice things up with delicious treats such as apples, melons, strawberries, peaches, and grapes.
An indoor tortoise needs a little extra nutrition to make up for the differences in sunlight exposure. Consider vitamin D3 and calcium supplements, but always talk to a vet first before adding any supplements to your tortoise’s diet!
Tortoises eat mostly plants, but you can also feed them insects every once in a while. Feed your pet once a day and try following a regular feeding schedule. It’s best to spread and hide your tortoise’s food throughout its enclosure. This way, you simulate natural foraging conditions, while also making things fun and encouraging your pet to exercise.
Hydration also plays an important role for your tortoise’s health. As I said, the ambient moisture levels shouldn’t be too low. The soil substrate should be slightly damp to make digging holes easier. Moist soil also works better when your tortoise needs to cool off after basking in the sun. Water is also an important part of your tortoise’s nutrition needs.
Yes, your tortoise gets most of its water needs met due to its plant-rich diet. Fruit and vegetables contain lots of water. But your pet also needs access to clean drinking water at all times.
Place a shallow bowl of water in your pet’s tank and replace the water regularly. Tortoises often bathe in the same bowl they use for drinking. This can introduce harmful bacteria in the water.
In the wild, Hermann’s tortoises’ breeding season starts in February after winter hibernation ends. Nesting takes place between May and July. Hermann’s Tortoise eggs hatch during the second half of August or during September. The hatchlings come out after about 90 days of incubation. For tortoises kept in captivity, the breeding period might vary.
Female tortoises need a thick substrate of soil to dig their nest, which is usually a few centimeters deep. Once they build their nest, female tortoises will lay anywhere between 2 to 12 eggs. After laying the eggs, the mother will leave the baby tortoises on their own.
Male tortoises get aggressive during mating, especially if there are other males within the same enclosure, so keep this in mind if you intend to breed your tortoises. It’s best to keep the males separated during mating season.
5 Interesting Facts
- Hermann’s Tortoises inhabit areas around Southern Europe in countries such as Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Turkey, Romania, and Serbia.
- The gender of baby Hermann’s Tortoises is temperature-dependent. Males need a temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit, while at 78 degrees Fahrenheit the babies will be female.
- According to the IUCN, this species is considered to be “near threatened”.
- Their diet is similar to that of a Greek tortoise, but they are especially fond of legumes and clovers as opposed to other grasses.
- A young tortoise’s shell doesn’t fully develop until 6-8 years of age.
This tortoise is perfect for pet owners of all ages. If you want a mellow, yet interesting companion, look no further! This tortoise is always chill and minding its own business, but it also does well when in a group. Give it enough food, water, space, and light, and you’ll have a happy friend.
It’s really a show watching these tortoises roam around, play, and dig little holes outside or inside their enclosure. They’re most active early in the morning or when looking for food. Hide some treats around in their tank and watch your tortoise eagerly scavenging the area for more!