Mediterranean tortoises belong to the Testudo genus, and because they are so close in appearance and have so many subspecies, they have proven to be one of the most confusing groups of tortoises to differentiate. The western Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni hermanni) is one of three currently recognized subspecies of Hermann’s tortoise. It is quite possibly one of the most poorly understood of these popular European land dwellers. The eastern Hermann’s tortoise (T. h. boettgeri) and the Dalmatian tortoise (T. h. hercegovinensis) are the two more commonly seen subspecies. They are easily obtainable through dealers and breeders and at reptile expos. Due to its extreme rarity both in the wild and in captive collections, especially in the United States, the western Hermann’s is hardly ever seen in captivity. Its small adult size, usually no more than 5½ inches for females and 4 inches for males, its rich coloration and markings, and its ability to adapt well in captivity make it a highly sought after tortoise. Well, at least by those who know what they are.
Want to read the full story? Pick up the January 2011 issue of REPTILES, or subscribe to get 12 months of articles just like this.