Overview of Hermann’s Tortoise

Subspecies and Taxonomy

Two subspecies of Hermann’s tortoise are known: the western Hermann’s tortoise (T. h. hermanni) and the eastern Hermann’s tortoise (T. h. boettgeri). The status of T. h. peleponnesica as a subspecies is uncertain.

Taxonomic Controversy

In 2006, there was a suggestion to move Hermann’s tortoise to the genus Eurotestudo and elevate the subspecies to species rank. However, this proposal faces skepticism due to inconclusive data and uncertain relationships with related species.

Evolutionary Differences

The rate of evolution, measured by mutations in mtDNA, varies between eastern and western populations. This divergence is attributed to historical factors, particularly the last ice age’s impact on Balkan populations.

T. h. hermanni Subspecies


T. h. hermanni exhibits a highly arched shell with intense coloration, often maintaining vibrant yellow hues. The head displays a range of colors from dark green to yellowish, with characteristic cheek spots in some specimens.


Forelegs typically lack black pigmentation on their undersides, and males possess larger tails with spikes. The shell may exhibit variations, including undivided shells reminiscent of the Greek tortoise.

T. h. boettgeri Subspecies


T. h. boettgeri presents a flatter, more oblong carapace compared to T. h. hermanni. Coloration tends towards brownish tones with yellow or greenish hues, often fading in older individuals.

Hermann’s tortoise Characteristics

The head and limbs feature brown to black coloring with fine scales. Males have larger tails with prominent spikes, while females display smaller, slightly bent tail spikes.

Distribution and Habitat

Hermann’s tortoises are found throughout southern Europe, with distinct populations in western and eastern regions. The western population inhabits regions including eastern Spain, southern France, and various Mediterranean islands. The eastern population extends across the Balkans, including Serbia, Romania, and Greece.

Reproduction and Behavior

Courtship and mating typically occur in late winter or early spring, following hibernation. Females lay eggs in flask-shaped nests during the summer months, with incubation lasting around 90 days. Hatchlings emerge in early autumn and remain near their nests for several years, vulnerable to predation.

Hermann’s tortoise lifespaan

Hermann’s tortoises can live up to 30 years, with reports suggesting potential lifespans exceeding 90 years. Young tortoises face threats from various predators, including rats, birds, and mammals, until their shells fully develop around six to eight years of age.

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