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HERMANN'S TORTOISE - Caresheet
Common Names: Hermann's Tortoise (Eastern & Western)
Scientific Name: Testudo hermanni
Origin: Southern Europe
Size: 6-10" (females usually larger than males)
Lifespan: 50-60 years
You will find many ways on the internet on "how to" take care of this animal. This care sheet is showing the way we found works best for us from our many years of experience of caring for this species.
In the wild, the Hermann's Tortoise lives in arid, rocky Mediterranean landscapes with scrubby vegetation, grasslands, and dry oak forests.
The ideal pet enclosure is an outdoor pen (during the warmer months) with well-drained soil. The larger the area the better, with a minimum size of approximately 4'x 4' for an adult.
They love to climb and burrow, so the enclosure should be sturdy enough to keep the tortoise in. You want the walls a minimum of 18" high and constructed from concrete, cinder blocks, wood, or other solid building material. You don't want to allow the tortoises to see through the wall, otherwise they will continually try to escape. The wall should also be buried 10" to 12" below ground. Setting up the interior of the pen with mounds, rocks, logs, and other items can help not only provide shelter, but also keep it more interesting for your tortoise. If you live in an area with raccoons and other predators, the enclosure should be covered with some sort of frame and hardware cloth for protection.
Keeping your tortoise indoors requires an enclosure with lots of space and ventilation. Most inside enclosures will be too small on their own. Tortoises love to roam. So make sure you take your Hermann out to walk in the yard or around your house. If using a glass enclosure, for an adult Hermann, make it as big as possible. A Zoo Med lowboy tank is a decent size for an adult. Allow the tortoise as much space and open air as you can. Custom built enclosures like Tortoise Tables are popular. At the very least, use a 50 gallon (or preferably larger) rubbermaid-type plastic tub or plastic kid pool (as long as it is tall enough for him not to climb out). For a baby tortoise you can start with a Exo Terra 18" x 18" x 12" enclosure. They will out grow this usually by the time they are a year old.
Because they like to burrow, a good substrate mixture of Zoo Med eco earth and Exo Terra sand is recommended, at least 4" to 5" deep for adults. Keep it clean and a little moist. Take care that it's not so wet that if you take a handful of substrate and squeeze it water comes out. Hermann Tortoises are susceptible to respiratory and other disorders if they're kept in damp environments. As with outdoor enclosures, your indoor pet will appreciate rocks, branches, plants and other structures to hide behind and keep their interest.
Since even smaller tortoises roam large amounts of land, they always like to be busy and explore. Whether you keep them in glass or something they can't see out of they will still go into the corner of the enclosure and dig.
LIGHTING & TEMPERATURES
For adults, you'll want to keep your enclosure temperature in the mid 70s with night time temperatures can go down to 65 degrees. Babies should be kept warmer. Night time temps not lower than 74 degrees. For all Hermanns, a basking spot of 90-95 degrees should also be provided at one end of the enclosure. Use a good quality temperature gauge, like Zoo Meds digital temp gauge or Exo Terras Thermometer to figure out the temperatures in your enclosure. They will need a UVB light to help properly process calcium and to synthesize vitamin D3. Since they are not out in natural sunlight in our homes, we must provide UVB light in the form of a special fluorescent bulb designed to produce UVB rays. The best bulbs are the mercury vapors such as Exo Terra's Solar Glo bulbs, ZooMed's Powersun, or Solar bright bulbs. These bulbs provide heat and UVB all in one bulb. You can also use separate basking (heat) bulb and UVB bulbs. If you use these, you will want the Zoo Med 10.0 or Exo Terra UVB 150 variety. (If you don't have a screen over your tank (and it is not a really tall tank), you can use a 5.0 bulb instead.
Although the Hermann's Tortoise comes from an semi-arid region, they still need clean water daily. In an outside enclosure, this can be in a large low bowl or tray that the tortoise will climb into. They often drink and defecate at the same time, so it's important to change the water daily. Exo Terra bowls or Flukers rock dish are nice naturalistic non-porous water bowls. Babies need higher moisture. If you start with a baby, mist the bedding once a day. So they can get some moisture when they burrow and sleep. We also suggest soaking your baby tortoise a couple times a day in a shallow bowl of lukewarm water. Water depth should be just up to their knees for approx. 15 mins. to help them stay hydrated. You can also provide a humid hide. Just put a hide on the cool side with some damp sphagnum moss in it.
Hermann's Tortoises are herbivores and require a plant-based, calcium-rich diet. Broadleaf weeds are a favorite, but a variety of dark leafy greens is important. Outdoors, dandelions are excellent. Store-bought salad mixes are good, especially if they included things like turnip greens, collard greens, and kale. Top off your greens with Mazuri tortoise diet, zoo med gourmet tortoise food, or zilla dried vegetable mix. Make sure to supplement your Hermann's food every feeding with calcium and vitamins such as Repashy Superveggie with a little extra calcium w D3 mixed in. You can also use Zoo Med Reptivite with D3 1x a week.
dandelions (uncontaminated with chemicals)
greens (turnip, collard, mustard)
leaf lettuces (dark types, no spinach)
Mazuri tortoise diet
zoo med gourmet tortoise food
zilla dried vegetable mix
Tortoises are friendly and fun to watch, though it can be stressful to them if handled too much. After they get to know you they do like to follow you around and like to be next to you but they prefer not to be picked up too much.