Testudo hermanni hermanni:

Western Hermann's tortoise


(Sicily), Italy.

It's certainly possible that the tortoises native to the Madonie on Sicily are the most unique of all Testudo hermanni hermanni. The presence of tubercles or thigh spurs much like that of the Greek tortoise (Testudo graeca) immediately throws us for a loop. While not all have them, many do but rest assured, they are in no way a hybrid with Testudo graeca but are instead their very own special form of the western Hermann's tortoise.


  • Standard sized, some larger

  • Second vertebral  dips forward in a "U" or "V" shape

  • Less black pigment on carapace

  • Greenish-yellow vibrant ground color

  • Head has various green to yellow flecks and spots especially around the nostrils

  • Subocular spot usually conspicuous

  • Head is narrow with regular contours and pointed snout

  • 4 or 5 light colored nails on each front foot

  • Suture between humeral and pectoral scutes may be straight lined, zig zag or "U" shaped.

  • "Gular Mustache" sometimes present

  • Produce 1-4 clutches of 2-3 eggs

  • Brilliantly colored hatchlings

  • Thigh spurs often present

  • One inguinal scute often missing


It seems appropriate to immediately cover the fact that the Testudo hermanni hermanni from the Madonie may posses thigh spurs just like the famous Greek tortoise. As stated above, they are not a hybrid. They are their own unique form. While not all specimens will exhibit these spurs, many do and they can even be viewed on young animals. It's unknown to science why these particular Hermann's tortoises have them but as we know, further genetic analysis is greatly needed for this species group. It has been reported that tortoises found in Nebrodi, Sicily can also feature tubercles but without a doubt, Madonie's animals are more known for them. Therefore, we like to refer to these special tortoises as the "Sicilian Spurred" T. h. hermanni.

Insular Traits...

Madonie tortoises are part of the insular group of the western Hermann's tortoises so they certainly feature the more commonly associated insular traits. The "Gular Mustache" may or may not be present but can easily be seen in the animal to the left. A flatter carapace is apparent like those found in Sardinia but Madonie animals are noticeably trapezoidal in shape. 

Like Sardinia and some other insular populations, Madonie tortoises can vary in overall size and weight. While some fall into the typical dimensions for the western subspecies, some others surpass them. Males average between 5.11 and 5.34" and females dance between 6.1 and 7".

Inguinals, or no inguinals?

One last trait worth mentioning which can be considered unique to Madonie tortoises is the lack of one of the inguinal scutes. In the photo with red circles, two of our females are shown and both are missing the inguinal scute on the same side. Lacking one or both of these scutes is a trait more commonly associated with the Dalmatian tortoise (Testudo hermanni hercegovinensis) but as we can see, nature is never done surprising us. These tortoises have been genetically tested and fall solely into the western subspecies meaning they do not share the DNA of the Dalmatian.