Tortoise Pet Care

Posted on July 13, 2020

There are currently two sub-species of Hermann’s Tortoises, which are recognised. One is Testudo hermanni boettgeri, which originates from the Balkans, Albania, Southern Italy and Yugoslavia. The other subspecies is Testudo hermanni hermanni, which occurs in France, Mediterranean Coast of Spain and Italy. Most Hermann’s tortoises kept in the UK are Testudo hermanni boettgeri. Although the care of both subspecies is similar, they should not be kept together. At one point this species was removed from its natural habitat in such numbers that they are now all protected by law. For more information on registering your tortoise please contact DEFRA, who will be able to assist you through the paperwork required. NB – All Captive Bred tortoises in the UK should have paperwork to prove their origin.


Adult Hermann’s Tortoises can reach sizes of around 15 to 20cm (for T. hermanni hermanni) and up to 25cm (for T. hermanni boettgeri). Males are always smaller than females. Horsefield tortoises are generally smaller.


Horsefield and Hermann’s tortoises are vegetarian and eat a wide range of green leafy plants as well as their flowers. For further information on Tortoise diets it is advised to read The Tortoise and Turtle Feeding Manual, by Andy Highfield. (Carapace Press).


Heat Source:- This can be either a reflector (spot) lights in green, blue or red. Also ceramics or tubular heaters can be used. UV Lighting:- The Hermann’s Tortoise requires access to a Reptisun 10.0 UV light. To assist in synthesis of D3. Housing:- They are very active animals. It should be noted that Glass Aquariums are not designed to maintain tortoises in. It is best to house Hermann’s Tortoise seperately, unless a large area is provided like a garden or a converted greenhouse. Males should always be kept seperately. A large enclosure is best, one measuring 180cm long by 120cm wide x 60cm high (6ft x 4ft x 2ft). The above measurements are meant as a guide only. If a Vivarium is chosen then it is best to ensure that your tortoise cannot see out of the front as it will damage itself. A wooden plynth can be placed along the front to stop this problem occuring. Thermostat:- An essential part of every Vivarium and is required to control the internal heat inside the vivarium and to prevent your pet becoming too hot or too cold. Wire Mesh Guards:- These should be fitted over all heat sources used in order to prevent any thermal burns from occurring. Thermometers:- One should be placed at either end of the vivarium. Never go by the temperature shown on the thermostat as this is often innaccurate. Hides:- These should always be provided to prevent the animals from becoming stressed and exposed. Water:- It was once believed that tortoises obtained all of their moisture from food. This has been disproved by studies on wild tortoises. They should be offered water daily in the form of a shallow bath. Even if they do not have a drink, it aids them in the excreting of waste products.


The Tortoise should have access to a basking area of around 30C (86F). The background temperature should drop to around 20C (68f).


Hermann’s Tortoises have been recorded living beyond 100 years old.


Hermann’s Tortoises should be hibernated, unless they have been unwell during the course of the year. Just prior to hibernation and after waking up they should be given a health check by a vet. The tortoise trust have an information pack on hibernation.


Use beech chippings or Tortoise substrate.


Many reptiles carry naturally occurring Salmonella. It must be stated however that Salmonella bacteria can only be contracted by ingestion (via the mouth). Good hygiene is therefore very important when keeping any animal.

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