Testudo hermanni hermanni:

Western Hermann's tortoise


(Balearic Islands),Spain.

Testudo hermanni hermanni is still relatively numerous on the island of Mallorca (Majorca). Vacationers purposely seeking to witness them in nature usually do not have to exhaust themselves trying to locate them on this gorgeous island. Although they may not be as endangered as other locales, they are in dire need of further examination. Said to be introduced some 3,000 years ago to Mallorca, these Balearic tortoises resemble the southern French form rather than any Italian form, morphologically speaking. They are often not included in previous genetic studies and so our own DNA analysis could only shed so much light as to their makeup. They are a wonderful example of the western subspecies none the less and feature some interesting traits.


  • Oval carapace, minimal flaring of the marginal scutes

  • Second vertebral scute rounded

  • 50/50 black to yellow ratio on carapace or heavy amount of black

  • Pale to lemon yellow ground color

  • Top of head dark 

  • Subocular not always present

  • Rounded head with blunt snout

  • Smaller sized, 4.83"/males, 5.76"/females

  • 5 claws on each front foot, sometimes black

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

  • "Gular Mustache" absent

  • Produce 1-2 clutches of 1-3 eggs

  • Small, pale hatchlings

  • Keyhole on fifth vertebral scute very well defined

  • Plastral bands relatively thick with protruding "spikes" pointing at each other between the pectoral and abdominal scutes


As mentioned above, Mallorcan T. h. hermanni have some traits that set them apart without a doubt. In the photo with red arrows, the black claws on the forelimbs of an adult female are apparent. Not all will have them of course but we see this more often in this form. The dark top of the head is also visible in this image. 

 The rounded head with a blunt snout and less obvious subocular spot are evident in the images showing a closer look at the profile. 

At the suture between the pectoral and abdominal scutes on either side of the midline, there is often a protruding spike of black pigment. These spikes point at each other and in rare cases may just barely meet. Sometimes the same two small spikes may be found where the humerals meet the pectorals as well. I do not witness this being as prominent on any of our multiple Italian tortoises. Whether or not this tool for recognition should be accepted is surely uncertain but I have been able to rely on it for my own tortoises.

Mallorcan specimens are certainly not big animals, in fact, females weighing in at over 600 grams are considered on the heavier side for our group.

Their carapace is moderately domed and occasionally "saddle shaped" being raised in the anterior.