Testudo hermanni hermanni:

Western Hermann's tortoise Tuscany,Italy.

Tuscany is many times the first area in the western Hermann's tortoise's natural range that comes to mind. At one time, this endangered tortoise colonized various areas in this beautiful region of the Italian mainland. Much has changed since those days but one thing that remains is the fact that the T. h. hermanni found here are an extremely attractive and familiar form. The oblong carapace, rich coloration and size place them in a well-known locale of their own. They have become the most common of the western Hermann's tortoises in captive collections especially the United States.


  • Oblong to round shape sometimes like a pear

  • Second vertebral scute usually straight edged

  • Usually 50/50 black to gold ratio on carapace

  • Golden yellow with orange hue to ground color

  • Greenish or dark colored head

  • Subocular present but not always conspicuous in older animals

  • Head has regular contours, narrow but with less pointed snout than insular forms

  • Standard sized for western subspecies with larger specimens not uncommon

  • 4 or 5 light colored nails on each front foot, usually 5

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

  • "Gular Mustache" absent usually

  • Produce 1-3 clutches of 2-4 eggs, on rare occasions 5

  • Brightly marked hatchlings, may darken with age with strong contrast

  • Keyhole on fifth vertebral scute very well defined

  • Occasionally the fourth vertebral scute may lack a central dark marking

Variation across populations

There's no question about the presence of variation throughout Testudo hermanni hermanni's range in the wild and we may see this within one region. Further, certain forms such as Tuscany will exhibit variances even in a said local population. Usually animals from the eastern portion of this region are larger with brighter coloration while southern groups may be smaller, rounder and sport a higher content of black pigment. Take a look at this pair. These adults from southern Tuscany are clearly different from the eastern specimens pictured above. Other areas in Italy may hold the same kind of variation like Apulia where the tortoises of the Taranto Gulf are smaller and darker while those from Gargano are more standard sized and almost pastel in coloration (see Gargano page here).

Tuscan western Hermann's tortoises range in weight and size with most topping out at between 5.05 and 5.19" inches for males and 5.43 to 6.5" inches for females. Most of our females are in the 800 gram department but those slightly surpassing 1,000 grams are not a total rarity. Viewing these specimens, a closer look at the plastron, plastral stripes and head are given. 

Sometimes, there is similarity in the head markings to insular Italian populations of T. h. hermanni. The larger, conspicuous cheek patch (subocular) is the main trait we take into consideration here because Tuscan tortoises do not always feature a clear or easily visible one. The purpose for displaying these sometimes atypical characteristics on this site is to constantly remind the reader that variation is paramount. Many times, without knowing the bona fide history of an animal, one cannot be sure of where it derives from.

The Testudo hermanni hermanni of Tuscany are yet another classic form or locale of the western population. Even as neonates they begin to exhibit rich and vibrant colors sometimes right out of the egg.