Caring for Hermann's Tortoises as Pets: A Guide

Hermann tortoise

Hermann's tortoise, like the spur-thighed and marginated tortoises, is a Mediterranean native to Mediterranean Europe's rocky slopes and oak and beech woodlands. The calm disposition and pure beauty of this gorgeous turtle with a yellow and brown carapace, thick scales, and powerful legs are greatly prized. If you reside in a suitable environment with enough of outdoor space, caring for this is pretty simple. Indoor care is difficult otherwise.

Species Overview

Common Names: Hermann's tortoise

Scientific Name: Testudo hermanni

Adult Size: 6 to 8 inches

Life Expectancy: Average, up to 75 years, although some may live longer

Hermann's Tortoise Behavior and Temperament

Hermann's tortoise is a peaceful and quiet creature that rarely bites. To protect itself, it usually bites other tortoises, pets, or humans. It dislikes being touched and prefers to remain safely grounded.

This energetic critter enjoys running, digging, foraging, and sunbathing. It's not a particularly strong climber. Tortoises interact regularly and might fight, especially during mating season in the spring and fall. Male tortoises will chase and ram female tortoises during courting, occasionally injuring them. Bring males and females together only if you wish to pair them; otherwise, separate them.

Housing the Hermann's Tortoise

Keep in mind that adult Hermann's tortoises do not perform well inside, so keep that in mind before taking one home. Because outdoor living is highly advised, your outdoor environment should be similar to that of the Mediterranean area (Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania).

A tortoise habitat should have a shallow pan of water (ideally dug into the ground) for drinking and cooling off, as well as rocks, tiny trees and plants, and a shelter to keep it safe from predators and inclement weather. Because these energetic tortoises like to burrow, the pen should be escape-proof with fence or sides sunk a couple of feet deep.

If you ultimately decide to house your tortoise indoors or move it inside during colder weather months, a relatively large enclosure is necessary (2-feet by 4-feet at minimum).

To keep the enclosure clean, scoop up visible pet wastes when you notice them. Change the water pan daily. You will need to change the substrate at least every one to two months.


If kept outside, daytime temperatures should range from 80 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (27 to 30 degrees Celsius) while nighttime temperatures should range from 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 21 degrees Celsius). In an indoor container, replicate these temperatures. Indoor enclosures will be heated mostly by lighting. It is also vital to provide a cool, shaded location for your tortoise to escape the heat, whether indoors or outside. If your pet needs to cool down, make sure the water pan you supply is deep enough for it to submerge its entire body.


If you're outside, the sun will offer enough light. Provide a basking light or heat lamp that resembles the sun, as well as a basking location (a group of low, flat pebbles works well) with an ambient temperature of around 95 degrees Fahrenheit if you're indoors (35 C).

UVB radiation is required for tortoises to manufacture vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 aids calcium absorption, which is necessary for bone formation and growth in tortoises. A ten percent fluorescent UVB tube lamp with a reflector should be included in every indoor cage to disseminate the UVB rays downward to the tortoise.


Tortoises are not particularly sensitive to humidity. Ambient moisture is sufficient for your tortoise as long as the humidity is at least 25% or greater (which is the case in most indoor and outdoor habitats).


The bottom of most pet cages is lined with a substrate or bedding. Tortoises, for example, require it for burrowing. The substrate in your pet's indoor habitat should be a mixture of dirt, sand, and composted cypress bark. Your tortoise should be able to dig into the compost mixture approximately two inches deep to cool down or get some action and exercise.

Food and Water

A tortoise's diet should mimic foraging in the environment. To feed your pet, use a range of leafy greens and grasses. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, carrots, apples, apricots, grapes, melons, peaches, and strawberries are all good additions to greens. Feed it from multiple food trays scattered throughout the enclosure once a day at the same time every day. Give them as much food as they will consume in 15 to 30 minutes, or a mound of food the size of the animal's shell.

To compensate for the absence of direct sunshine, an indoor tortoise requires vitamin supplements. Give your tortoise a high-quality meal with calcium and vitamin D3 supplements. Insects, snails, and carrion are also eaten by wild tortoises, but if you feed them, do it sparingly. Tortoises are mostly vegetarians, so don't feed them dog or cat food.

Change and clean its water pan daily and replenish it with filtered water.


If the temperature in the cage or outside dips below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, your pet tortoise may opt to hibernate. Some species hibernate for up to five months in the wild, typically between October and April. Indoor tortoises, on the other hand, find it difficult to maintain the right circumstances for a safe hibernation. As a result, it's essential to keep your tortoise active all year by maintaining a steady cage temperature.

Common Health Problems

Male turtles become violent with other males and females during the mating season. Inspect tortoises for wounds on a daily basis and isolate any wounded animals. To avoid infection, open wounds must be cleaned and treated with antibacterial medication. If you are unable to do so, get medical help from an exotics veterinarian.

Tortoises in captivity are also susceptible to several illnesses:

  • : Usually caused by inadequate lighting, heating, fresh food, clean water, or an environmental stressor; an exotics vet would likely need to treat with antibiotics.
  • : Caused by a lack of calcium or a problem absorbing calcium; best prevented with adequate full-spectrum lighting or direct sunlight; an exotics vet would likely prescribe a liquid calcium treatment.
  • Cloaca prolapse: Commonly caused by dehydration, a stone or hardened urate blocks the bladder; this requires veterinarian intervention.

Choosing Your Hermann's Tortoise

Purchasing your turtle from a breeder is the finest option. Purchasing a pet from a respected breeder assures that your animal did not come from a source that is diminishing natural populations, and breeders also provide better care. Reputable breeders may be found at reptile expos and exhibits, or you can ask exotics vets and other reptile owners for recommendations. A Hermann's tortoise can cost anywhere from $150 to $500. The cost of raising older tortoises to adulthood and the fact that they are prospering drive up the price.

Do not purchase a Hermann's tortoise from a pet store or dealer since the tortoises are more likely to have come from a shady source. Typically, the living conditions and care are poor, increasing your chances of adopting a sick pet.

A smooth shell with no unusual lumps or abnormalities indicates a healthy tortoise. It should have no discharge from its eyes, nose, or mouth. Make sure the fecal vent is clean. Feces should be firm and not runny.

Different Species of Tortoises

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