© 2017 Chris Leone/Garden State Tortoise LLC.

Testudo hermanni hermanni:

Western Hermann's tortoise Corsica,France.

Testudo hermanni hermanni is no stranger to Mediterranean Islands so it's no surprise that they are found on France's second largest, Corsica. This mountainous place with coastal towns and thick forest has a form of the western Hermann's tortoise which is not unlike those found on Sardinia and Sicily. They fit the typical description of insular T. h. hermanni forms well and are vastly different from the tortoises on France's mainland in Varoise. Corsica's population is genetically rich and valued by researchers as a potential pick for helping to save the western subspecies from extinction in other areas where it is an immediate threat. These medium to larger sized animals are robust and beautiful displaying more variation than continental locales.

TYPICAL CHARACTERISTICS

  • Low, broad carapace, males exhibit noticeable marginal scute flaring 
  • Second vertebral scute 

    strongly dips forward in a "U" shape
  • Less black content on carapace on most, markings less defined and "frayed" 

  • pale but bright yellow (sometimes greenish) ground color 

  • Top of head features yellow to greenish flecks at the back

  • Subocular spot large and conspicuous

  • Narrow head with pointed snout

  • Females may weigh 900-1,200 grams, males may weigh 500-700 grams
  • 4 claws on each front foot, light colored 

  • Suture between humeral and pectoral scutes varies

  • Gular scutes usually have 1-2 black stripes on the inner sides ("gular mustache")

  • Produce 1-3 clutches of 3-5 eggs

  • Hatchlings colorful
  • Keyhole on fifth vertebral scute varies from well defined to "messy"

  • Plastral bands moderately thick, sometimes broken

Insular Classics

Corse Testudo hermanni hermanni are textbook example of Italian/French insular forms. Like those on Sardinia and Sicily, they bear an array of traits not normally encountered on those from the mainland areas of the sub specie's range. The carapace features less intensity with more frayed or spread out black pigment on a paler yellow to sometimes greenish ground color. The keyhole symbol on the fifth vertebral scute is often less defined than continental/mainland forms and may be wider at the top, stretching across the whole scute. This is of course not always the case and animals may also exhibit tightly formed and clear keyholes. The overall shape of the carapace is more trapezoid than mainland animals particularly noted on males. The carapace is also lower and broader with a less significant arch. As in other insular forms, the second vertebral dips forward into the first in a "U" shape and this is often exaggerated quite a bit on Corse specimens. Altogether, these animals are lighter in general coloration when compared to those from Varoise, Spain and mainland Italy but darker specimens can be found more inland on the island. 

Corse western Hermann's tortoises display the indicative yellow subocular spot under and behind each eye about as well as it possibly can be. Like all forms they are born with it but carry it clearly throughout life. Even in their elderly years the spot is usually still recognizable and in animals in their prime, it's large and downright conspicuous. On top of the head, a series of yellow to green scales are found usually clustered toward the back.

‚Äč

The shape of the head is narrow with a noticeably pointed snout and hooked beak. Muscles at the top are impressive especially in males.

Corse tortoises continue to meet the insular description by commonly featuring the "gular mustache". This trait is explained on several Italian island forms. One to two black stripes will found under the throat on the inner sides of the gular scutes of the plastron. Typically, each scute features one stripe. Both scutes may have it, or just one. The undersides of the gular scutes are free of any black pigment.

The number of claws on each front foot of Corse T. h. hermanni can and does vary, but the vast majority of animals tend to have four. This form is genetically and morphologically similar to Sardinian and Sicilian tortoises but they seem to exhibit four claws on each front foot more consistently than the others. The claws are light colored or clear.

Some of the Largest?

Corsica has been reported to have some rather large examples of the western subspecies. Animals reaching beyond 22 cm have been described and this is not shocking since they are closely related to other Insular form. Our animals range from 600 to 750 grams for males and 900-1,200 grams for females. This certainly puts them toward the top of the size list for T. h. hermanni but Sardinian specimens take the cake in being the largest, at least in our care.