Brief SummaryRead full entry
SummaryHermann’s Tortoise, Testudo hermanni (Family Testudinidae), is a medium-sized terrestrial species (average carapace length ca. 130 to 180 mm), widespread in the European Mediterranean region. Currently two subspecies are distinguished: T. h. hermanni in Western Europe and T. h. boettgeri in Eastern Europe, the border between them being the Po Valley in northeastern Italy. The species inhabits most Mediterranean vegetation habitats, but typically semi-open formations of stony, sun-drenched hills with low and sparse vegetation and grass. Some East European populations are found at up to 1300 m of elevation, but most populations are below 500 m. Sexual dimorphism is moderate, with females on average 12% larger than males. A morphological distinction from most other tortoise species is the presence of a horny claw-like scale at the tip of the tail that is more developed in males than in females. The maximum number of clutches laid annually is 3, but most frequent are 1 to 2 clutches per year. Maximum clutch size is 7 eggs for T. h. hermanni and 9 eggs for T. h. boettgeri, with a mean clutch size of 3.3 and 4.3 eggs, respectively. Annual survival of adults is estimated to range from 85 to 97%. Most western populations of the species are in strong decline and have very restricted distributions. Eastern populations appear to be more stable, though some populations also show a strong decline. Primary threats are destruction and alteration of habitats (mostly by forest fires, expansion of human settlements and infrastructure, and changes to traditional use of forest, pastoral practices, and agriculture), harvesting for the pet trade, and increases in the population size of native predators (mainly mammal carnivores and wild boars). Proposed conservation measures include habitat restoration and improvement, creation of reserves to protect the species, and environmental education. Captive breeding and reintroduction programs are necessary only for the most threatened populations.