Testudo hermanni hermanni:

Western Hermann's tortoise


(Balearic Islands),Spain.

Minorca is home to two conflicting populations of Testudo hermanni hermanni. Both genetically and phenotypically, the animals in the northwest are believed to be descendants of continental tortoises while those in the southeastern portion descend from insular tortoises (Corsica, Sardinia & Sicily). In addition to this, around 50% of the representatives from Minorca are the result of introgressions between the two lineages found on the island. The group maintained here is of the northwestern population ("Minorca1"), which is reported as originating from a now extinct continental population said to have been introduced to this island by man. They exhibit all basic traits allocated to continental tortoises however, like Malorca, their phenotype can be considered to be more closely related to continental French and Spanish tortoises rather than Italian.


  • Oval carapace, minimal flaring of the marginal scutes except for males

  • Second vertebral scute rounded

  • 50/50 black to yellow ratio on carapace 

  • Yellow to orangish ground color

  • Top of head dark 

  • Subocular not always present

  • Rounded head with blunt snout

  • 4.6"/males, 6.05"/females

  • 5 claws on each front foot

  • 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 well defined

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

  • Recessed nuchal scute creating a wide "V" shape for the front marginals

An interesting speculation...

Minorcan T. h. hermanni interestingly may exhibit a nuchal scute that is shortened or recessed. The recession gives way to a noticeable “V” shape above the neck as the marginal scutes on either side seem to protrude. An extremely intriguing observation within the Minorca group is the actual lack of a  nuchal scute on hatchlings. Between 70 and 120 Testudo hermanni hermanni are hatched here yearly and this is the only form that exhibits this missing nuchal scute in our care. Some 50% of babies are born missing it when ironically none of the adults lack it, however, they do feature a recessed nuchal. In any case, it is unknown if these observations are isolated to my particular group of tortoises from Minorca or not, but they are certainly worthy of discussion. 

As stated just above, some 50% of Minorcan hatchlings produced here will actually lack the nuchal scute above the head. This interesting characteristic is notably clear when comparing Minorcan hatchlings to those from Mallorca. I have yet to find any other notes about this in other literature regarding T. h. hermanni but I am eager to hear of similar instances with other Minorcan specimens.

Our Minorcan examples of Testudo hermanni hermanni are slightly larger than our Mallorcan stock. Females may just surpass 6" and weigh in the 750 grams or more range.