green turtle (Testudo hermanni)

PUSH Hermann’s Tortoise (Testudo hermanni) is a reptile from the order Testunides, family Testudinidae and genus Testudo. It lives in the coastal areas of the northern Mediterranean and is also widespread in Italy, from sea level to an altitude of around 850 meters. It averages 15 centimeters in length, has a carapace with yellowish and black spots, and feeds mainly on broad-leaved plants and flowers, but can sometimes eat ripe fruits such as apples or strawberries.

How a Hermann’s Tortoise is made

The green turtle is a medium-sized species and reaches approximately 16.5 cm in length, although this aspect varies by range area. The carapace is moderately convex and has yellowish and black spots. The plastron (that is, the lower part) also has black spots, but in this case they are arranged in two distinct and longitudinal bands.

Sexual dimorphism is evident, as the male has a longer and more massive tail than the female, and in addition the rear end of the carapace is convex and the edge is slightly bent towards the tail. Females however tend to be larger in size by about 12% compared to men, who generally do not exceed 14 centimeters.

Regarding the weight of these turtles, a group of researchers observed the subjects of the population of Bosco della Mesola in the province of Ferrara, which found average weight 808.6 g for men and 1005 g for women.

The legs of this turtle generally have 5 nails on the front limb (although the fifth is sometimes missing or greatly reduced), while the hind limbs only have 4. A 2010 study by the Italian National Academy of Entomology, in collaboration with the Italian Zoological Union and ISPRA describes the appearance of young individuals and emphasizes that they often have less contrasting coloration.

Habitat and distribution

Presence Testudo hermanni. Source: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

This is an endemic species of the area the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. In Italy in particular, it is found both on the peninsula and on the larger islands, and is widespread from the coast up to an altitude of about 850 meters. As the IUCN points out, it is difficult to determine the exact distribution. kind of, because of repeated introduction of non-native individuals from captivity.

Optimal habitats are evergreen coastal forests and scrub, especially where the terrain is rocky and/or sandy. The green turtle is also widespread among the dunes on the coast, near pastures, arid meadows, abandoned olive groves, citrus groves and vegetable gardens.

Currently Turtle Conservation Fund The IUCN distinguishes two subspecies, namely T. h. hermanniwidespread in Western Europe and T. h. boettgeri, endemic in Eastern Europe. The two subspecies differ not only in distribution area, but also in some details of carapace and plastron color and their size. T. h. boettgeri, it is actually slightly larger than T. h. hermanni and also reaches 25 centimeters in length.

Behavior and reproduction

Females produce one or more clutches of 3-5 eggs per year, and both sexes reach sexual maturity between 9 and 12 years of age, although males usually reach it slightly earlier.

During mating, the male makes some sounds that are easily heard and recognized by humans, and finally, the female can keep the sperm for up to 4 years. According to Bioparco di Sicilia, this species lays its eggs between May and June and hatches between August and September. If hatching is delayed, the baby may hibernate before birth.

In its natural habitat, the species hibernates from November to April, but if found in colder environments, it may advance by a month. In more southerly areas, on the other hand, they can reduce activity at very high temperatures. Furthermore, during these stages, the Hermann’s tortoise stops feeding. This behavior needs to be monitored carefully if the animal lives in a domestic environment and if you have any doubts it is important to speak to your trusted vet. Facing lethargy in a state of weakness, underweight or illness can actually be a risk.

However, we must remember this T. h. hermanni it is part of Annex II of CITES and Annex A of Regulation EC 2724/2000. This means that it is a protected species and cannot be kept or sold (with special exceptions) unless it is a captive-born individual and in any case it must have identification methods (eg microchip or photograph of the plastron and carapace).


testudo hermanni

PUSH Hermann’s Tortoise it is a herbivorous animal and therefore in nature it feeds on plants and especially flowers and broad-leaved vegetables. Sometimes you can also eat ripe fruits such as apples, pears, figs, strawberries, cherries or blackberries. Ideal food can also be clover, dandelion, plantain and, in southern areas, prickly pear leaves.

In nature, predators of this species are mainly represented by wild pigs and other medium-sized mammals, especially when the reptiles are young and therefore very small.

Hermann’s Tortoise and Man

In Italy, since 2004, the Hermann’s tortoise has been considered close to extinction (Near endangered, NT). However, since an analysis by the IUCN in 2013, the species is considered “threatened” (EN) as a population decline of approximately 50% has been recorded in the last 3 generations alone. This occurs, according to a study carried out by ISPRA and published in 2016, as a result of habitat loss, change, fragmentation and degradation caused by human activities and in particular deforestation, urbanization, fires and ever-expanding intensive agriculture.

This species is actually very vulnerable to environmental changes and unfortunately especially along the coast it suffers due to excessive land use. There is also another factor that threatens the survival of this turtle, and that is the collection of individuals living in the wild by hobbyists for the purpose of bringing them into the domestic environment. Finally, the voluntary release of individuals belonging to the Balkan subspecies (T. h. boettgeri) increases the risk of hybridization.

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