Testudo hermanni hermanni:

Western Hermann's tortoise



Continental Italy is home to some of the most classic forms of Testudo hermanni hermanni imaginable. In Apulia (my family's home), two distinct locales are recognized to date. On this page we discuss quite possibly the most colorful of them all, and my absolute favorite, the tortoises of Gargano.


  • Oval carapace, minimal flaring of the marginal scutes

  • Second vertebral scute usually straight edged

  • Usually 50/50 black to gold ratio on carapace

  • Bright golden-yellow ground color almost pastel 

  • Greenish colored head

  • Subocular present but not always conspicuous in older animals

  • Head has regular contours, narrow but with less pointed snout than insular forms

  • Standard sized for western subspecies

  • 4 or 5 light colored nails on each front foot, usually 5

  • Suture between humeral and pectoral scutes is "U" shaped

  • "Gular Mustache" absent

  • Produce 1-3 clutches of 2-3 eggs

  • Small hatchlings, some very dark at first

  • Keyhole on fifth vertebral scute very well defined

A Timeless Classic...

Gargano's population may be the absolute best "textbook" example of Testudo hermanni hermanni. This form rarely strays from the typical description. The longitudinal black stripes or bands on the plastron are hardly ever interrupted and extend from the humeral scutes to the anal scutes giving a very "clean" look. You can effortlessly see this in the surrounding photos of both male and female. The beautiful light colored skin and nails with a greenish head are also obvious on the female in the last photo.  

Many juvenile Testudo hermanni hermanni will exhibit bold contrast and brilliant coloration early on in life. Gargano tortoises are no exception as we can plainly see with this two and a half year old. Like a mini version of the adults, she features all of those classic attributes.

Along with their textbook characteristics is their textbook size. Gargano western Hermann's tortoises attain dimensions normally associated with their group as a whole. Males reach 4.9 to 5.03" inches while females may make it to 6.1". Common weights and lengths can be seen in these photos as well as an overview of their general look. The high contrast of the black and yellow of the carapace depicts the image of bees swarming around on the ground. A truly stunning form of Testudo hermanni hermanni.