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Hermann’s Tortoise

Hermann’s Tortoise


Hermann’s tortoises are herbivores like most other tortoises. In the wild, they consume many types of grasses, flowers and other edible plants. If fed grocery store produce, it can be mixed into a tiny salad and may include escarole, opuntia, shredded carrot, endive, kale, occasional romaine, and occasional pumpkin. Romaine should be fed sparingly because it has poor nutritional value. This mixed salad has poor fiber, so it can be helpful to mix with bermuda grass hay powder (a coffee grinder works well to turn the hay into powder). It is recommended to sprinkle calcium daily, and if the tortoise isn’t going to be kept outdoors in plentiful natural sunlight, also use a combination calcium-D3 product.  It is also good to keep a cuttlebone (with the back removed) in the enclosure so the tortoise can eat it if they feel the need for more calcium. The best diet is a natural one that allows the tortoise to graze on various greens and grasses.  Such things as dandelion, bindweed, opuntia cactus, sedum, plantains (the weed, not the fruit known as plaintain), coreopsis, hibiscus, mulberry leaves, California poppy, mallow, honeysuckle, some vetches, some clovers, bermuda grass, and many other wildflowers and weeds can be grown in an outdoor tortoise pen.  It is also possible to grow many wildflowers and weeds indoors and in greenhouses so that your tortoise does not have to rely on grocery store greens, especially in winter.  Anything the tortoise might graze on must be pesticide free.

Foods to avoid (or to use in very *tiny* amounts) because they interfere with the uptake of calcium:  spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, beans, peas, cauliflower, collard greens, beet greens, turnip greens, mustard greens.  Fruit also should be avoided because the hermanns tortoise’s digestive system can’t process it.

Summary Information:

Adult Size: Up to 11 inches in length.

Captive Lifespan: More than 20 Years

Nighttime Air Temperature:  60-65°

Daytime Air Temperature:  70-90°

Sun Basking Temperature:  90-95°

Humidity:  30-50%

Original Habitat

Hermann’s tortoise was originally found in Mediterranean oak forests, which are known for arid, rocky slopes with scrubby vegetation.

Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Croatia, Romania, Macedonia, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Hungary, southern Italy. Other Information: The Hermanns tortoise is a beautiful species of tortoise. They are very hardy, stay small, and are quite friendly. There are two subspecies, Western and eastern. The eastern hermanns (Testudo hermanni boettgeri) get a little bigger and are much more common than the Westerns (Testudo hermanni hermanni).

Recommended Pet Enclosure

If possible, a safe and secure outdoor habitat with plenty of sun is preferred, and it should be planted with a variety of edible weeds, wildflowers, and a little bermuda grass.  A southern exposure for basking, and bushes and rocks for hiding will be greatly appreciated.  If an indoor habitat is used, it should mimic an outdoor one as much as possible.

For a hatchling’s indoor enclosure, a large plastic-bin container filled with a mixture of organic soil, orchid bark, and play sand makes a nice habitat.  Form some hills in the dirt, put in a few rocks, and place a seed tray in one corner to grow some sedum, weeds, and wildflowers. The hills are recommended to help teach your hatchling to climb and use it’s newborn muscles. You can also accommodate an adult in a similar, but larger, rubbermaid container.  Indoor enclosures need to have UVB light from a bulb, such as a Reptisun 5.0. You will also need a heat lamp for a basking area and a hide box for some privacy.  Mercury-vapor lamps, which supply heat and UVB, are good as long as the enclosure offers a warm end and a cooler end. Adults and even babies should be outdoors, but the enclosure needs to be safe from predators, including birds.  For an adult, about 6’x4′ should be enough, but the bigger the better. If you house more than one hermanns tortoise together, the enclosure must be larger. Hermanns tortoises are active and will dig and climb, especially if their pen is too small.  To prevent escapes, make sure the pen’s walls are placed several inches below ground surface and either makes the walls high or place a lip along the top of the wall to discourage climbing.

Clean water should be available daily, and twice-weekly soaks are not a bad idea, either.  Hermanns tortoises kept outdoors will often make a point of coming out during a rainstorm and drinking from puddles!


Other Information

You should not mix tortoise species because of the danger of transmitting parasites and other organisms to which a hermanns tortoise might not have an immunity. It’s not a good idea to mix hermanns tortoises of greatly different sizes because of the danger of injury to smaller ones. Do NOT house males together as they may fight. Females may be housed together, as well as a male and 2-3 females. Males are aggressive so keeping one male and one female together is not advised, although it may work fine in some cases. Hermanns tortoises don’t get “lonely” so they don’t necessarily need company.


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