Testudo hermanni hermanni:

Western Hermann's tortoise


(Sicily), Italy.

As we've already seen on previous pages, the Italian island of Sicily is home to several populations of Testudo hermanni hermanni. In the mountain range of Nebrodi, this tortoise also occurs. It is here that they experience more variation than other Sicilian locales. Very large tortoises nearing 24cm just like Sardinian and Corsican giants are not uncommon and so are smaller, more standard sized ones. Many have heavy black pigment with the colors of others being more balanced. Like the tortoises of the Madonie, they may or may not feature thigh spurs and they tend to have most other insular attributes like the "Gular Mustache" and a second vertebral scute which dips forward into the first in a distinct "U" shape. 


  • Usually less oval than continental animal

  • Second vertebral scute dips forward in a "U" shape

  • Some specimens with heavy black pigment, others more normal colored

  • Rich yellow to greenish ground color

  • Dark colored head with bright yellow flecks on top and around nostrils

  • Subocular usually conspicuous

  • Head has regular contours, narrow with pointed snout

  • Some specimens are extremely large nearing 22-24cm

  • 4 or 5 light colored nails on each front foot

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

  • "Gular Mustache" may or may not be present

  • Produce 2-3 clutches of 2-5 eggs

  • Hatchlings similar to all other insular forms

  • Keyhole on fifth vertebral scute well defined but sometimes messy


Nebrodi T. h. hermanni normally fall easily into what is commonplace for insular Italian tortoise descriptions despite the sometimes great degree of variation. Taking a look at some of these photos, you'll see the unmistakable "Gular Mustache" and the classic subocular spot under the eye.

There are records of absolute monstrous specimens showing up in Nebrodi as they do in Sardinia. Their genetic makeup is not entirely understood at the time of writing as this area of Sicily has not yet been studied extensively. The good news is that the giants found on Sardinia and Corsica have been sampled and still remain properly placed in the western subspecies group. However, we do know that insular tortoises can be genetically separated from their mainland cousins. Perhaps a new subspecies is on the horizon. Surely there is something peculiar about island T. h. hermanni and Nebrodi is no exception.  Clearly, these specimens are without a doubt pure western Hermann's tortoises.

These Nebrodi tortoises of ours exhibit all the normal markings and color for the western subspecies group. Some images reveal the weights of specimens on the smaller end of the size spectrum for this form. Most of our specimens are between 4.8 and 5.07" for males and  5.75 to 5.82" for females. As stated above, much larger specimens exist in nature.