Testudo hermanni hermanni:

Western Hermann's tortoise

Mount Etna 

(Sicily), Italy.

Quite possibly the smallest form of the western Hermann's tortoise, the tortoises of Mount Etna are one of our personal favorites to work with here. Deep black pigment creates an epic contrast to the yellow ground color. Native to the base of one of the most active volcanos in the world, these T. h. hermanni are not only unique in size but unique in natural habitat.


  • Very small size, similar to Testudo kleinmanni at times

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

  • Heavy black pigment and  bold pattern on carapace

  • Golden yellow ground color

  • Dark head with mottled yellow areas on top

  • 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" conspicuous and almost always present

  • Produce 1-2 clutches of 2-3 eggs

  • Dark colored hatchlings


Mount Etna tortoises are first known for their petite size. Males average between 3.61 and 4.6" which is comparable in size to the Egyptian tortoise (Testudo kleinmanni). Females certainly are not large either with most not surpassing 500 grams in weight and averaging between 4.6 and 5.3"  We have found that are considerably smaller than all other Italian forms and usually smaller than most other locales as well. Only the tortoises of Mallorca seem to come somewhat close.


The tortoises of Mount Etna really feature some incredible contrast even on the skin and head. Bright yellow areas on an otherwise dark background are found on these areas. Of course, the longitudinal, jet black stripes running parallel along the midline of the plastron cannot be overlooked. 

The "Gular Mustache", a telltale insular-hermanni trait is often encountered in any of Sicily's locales, Sardinia, Corsica and Minorca. Although occasionally encountered on continental specimens, it is on these forms that it becomes almost constant. In our Mount Etna tortoises, it is present on over 90% of them. The photos featuring red arrows reveal this clearly.