© 2017 Chris Leone/Garden State Tortoise LLC.

Testudo hermanni hermanni:

Western Hermann's tortoise

Sardinia,Italy.

The large Mediterranean island of Sardinia is home to both standard sized T. h. hermanni and some that absolutely tip the scales. True giants occur on this beautiful island which features nearly 2,000km of coastline and a mountainous interior. These tortoises are brightly colored and exhibit some interesting characteristics. It was once thought that Sardinia's tortoises were possibly influenced by illegally released pet trade Testudo hermanni boettgeri due to the immense size of some. That theory has since been dismissed as recent genetic findings prove they belong in the western subspecies group. Like other insular populations, their genetics are actually quite valuable to the survival of the western Hermann's tortoise as a whole.  

TYPICAL CHARACTERISTICS

  • Broad, low carapace

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

  • Striped, less bold pattern on carapace

  • Bright yellow ground color

  • Dark head with mottled yellow areas on top

  • Subocular spot large and conspicuous

  • Head is narrow with regular contours and pointed snout

  • Medium to extra large in overall size

  • 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" may be present

  • Produce 1-2 clutches of up to 5 eggs

  • Fast growing, robust hatchlings

In the photos on this page, we show the head of a male with the conspicuous yellow subocular spot under the eye and the mottled top of the head and a large adult female exhibiting the "U" shaped second vertebral scute which dips forward into the first. You'll also once again notice the "Gular Mustache" which is found on many insular populations of T. h. hermanni. Other photos show the typical black stripes on the plastron and another look at the head. 

GIANTS

Testudo hermanni hermanni is classically known to be a small chelonian. It's one of their most appealing attributes. However, as nature always teaches us, variation is paramount everywhere. Sardinia is home to some of the largest examples of these tortoises with some females reaching 24cm and weighing over 1,300 grams. While all other traits are clearly assignable to the usual western look, the impressive dimensions of some individuals are just plain astounding.

...and the regular

Although Sardinia harbors some truly monstrous examples, it also features more regular or standard sized tortoises such as the smaller animals on this page which come from the coastal commune Stintino. Once again variation sets out to confuse us but it's safe to say that they can still be distinguished from mainland Italian T. h. hermanni by the trained eye. Like most forms of the western Hermann's, they tend to follow a specific phenotype as described above. Overall, our Sardinian animals range between 5.26 and 6" while females are between 5.8 and 7 1/8".