Hermann’s tortoises are small to medium-sized tortoises from southern Europe.
Hermann’s tortoises do not fare well indoors, so keep this in mind before bringing one home. Since outdoor housing is strongly recommended, your outdoor climate should closely resemble the Mediterranean region’s such as Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania climates.
A tortoise habitat should consist of a shallow pan of water and preferably sunk into the ground for drinking uses and cooling off. There also should be rocks, small trees and bushes as decoration for the tortoise. A shelter is very important to protect your shelled friend from extreme weather and predators. The pen should be build as escape-proof with fencing or sides dug a couple of feet underground since these active tortoises tend to burrow.
If you ultimately decide to house Hermann’s tortoise indoors or move it inside during colder weather months, a relatively large enclosure is necessary which is 2-feet by 4-feet at minimum. Scoop up visible pet wastes right away when you notice them to keep the enclosure clean. Change the water pan daily. You will need to change the substrate at least every one to two months.
If the Hermann’s tortoise is housed outside, daytime temperatures should average around 80 F to 86 F (27 C to 30 C) and shouldn’t fall below 65 F to 70 F (18 C to 21 C) at night. Mimic these temperatures in an indoor enclosure. Lighting will be your primary source of heating for indoor enclosures. Whether inside or outside, it is also necessary to have a cool, shaded area for your tortoise to escape the heat. Make sure the water pan that you provide is deep enough for your pet to immerse its whole body in case it wants to cool off.
If outdoors, the sun will provide adequate lighting but you must provide a basking light or heat lamp that mimics the sun if indoors, complete with a basking spot (a set of low, flat rocks work well) with an ambient temperature of about 95 F (35 C) for the Hermann’s tortoise.
Tortoises require UVB light to synthesize vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 helps the tortoise absorb calcium, which is crucial for bone structure and growth. All indoor enclosures should include a 10 percent fluorescent UVB tube light with a reflector to spread the UVB rays downward to the tortoise.
Humidity is not a significant concern for tortoises. As long as the humidity is at least 25% or higher (most indoor and outdoor environments are), then ambient moisture is adequate for your tortoise.
Young Hermann’s tortoise and some adults tend to have attractive black and yellow-patterned carapaces, although the brightness may fade with age to a less distinct gray, straw, or yellow coloration. If you look closely, they have slightly hooked upper jaws and, just like other tortoises, possess no teeth, only strong, horny beaks. On the other hand, their scaly limbs are greyish to brown in colors, with some yellow markings, and their tails bear a spur (a horny spike) at the tip. Adult males have particularly long and thick tails, and well-developed spurs, distinguishing them from females.
Monitor and inspect the Hermann’s tortoise daily for wounds and isolate any injured animals. Open wounds will require cleaning and antibacterial treatment to prevent infection. Tortoises in captivity are also susceptible to several illnesses:
- Respiratory infection: Usually caused by inadequate lighting, heating, fresh food, clean water, or an environmental stressor; an exotics vet would likely need to treat with antibiotics.
- Metabolic bone disease: 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.
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