Raising a Hermann's turtle: advice and good practices

The Hermann's turtle should preferably be raised in a garden from the age of 3 months because it does not tolerate captivity in a terrarium. In order to offer him the best living conditions, it is necessary to take a minimum interest in this animal and its vital needs. It is also necessary to ask for the necessary authorizations, because the Hermann's turtle is part of the New Pets, and the regulations relating to it must be respected. Finally, it is necessary to prepare a specific enclosure for him and to allow him to hibernate each year in complete safety.


Hermann's turtle: a very variable life expectancy
Hermann's turtle, Testudo hermanni, sometimes called Moorish Turtle, belongs to the family Testudinidae. It is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a small tortoise which weighs at most 1 kg at adulthood and measures about twenty centimetres.

In its natural state, it can live until the age of 40 years, and up to 60 years, or even 100 years when it lives in captivity. Its age can be evaluated according to the growth marks visible on its scales as well as on its skeleton. However, this analysis can be complex, because as the turtle grows, the dating marks disappear and are replaced by new ones that are only visible until the animal reaches sexual maturity.

Hermann's turtle: a very variable life expectancy
Hermann's turtle, Testudo hermanni, sometimes called Moorish Turtle, belongs to the family Testudinidae. It is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a small tortoise which weighs at most 1 kg at adulthood and measures about twenty centimetres.

In its natural state, it can live until the age of 40 years, and up to 60 years, or even 100 years when it lives in captivity. Its age can be evaluated according to the growth marks visible on its scales as well as on its skeleton. However, this analysis can be complex, because as the turtle grows, the dating marks disappear and are replaced by new ones that are only visible until the animal reaches sexual maturity.



Hermann's turtle: an endangered animal in France
The Hermann's tortoise is on the verge of extinction in our country partly due to the disappearance of so-called soft agricultural land, the increase in wine-growing areas, ultra-urbanisation and fire-fighting which has largely benefited brush clearing but which has at the same time led to the death of many tortoises crushed by the machines used to remove the brush. The species can only be saved if its habitat is safeguarded.

Turtle, an ectothermic animal
The Hermann's turtle, a cold-blooded animal, has a peculiarity found in all reptiles: its body temperature is not produced by its organism. It is therefore always identical to the temperature of the environment where the turtle is found. It is thus ectothermic. For information, when the body temperature is produced by the organism, the appropriate term is endothermic.

Reproduction in the Hermann's turtle
Hermann's turtle is a solitary animal. It is only during the breeding period that males and females meet. They engage in a courtship ritual during which the female tests the male's qualities and may decide to refuse the mating. She has several chosen ones during the same period with which she mates. The semen of each of the males is then kept in her reproductive tract between 4 and 5 years. This ensures offspring, even if in the following years the female cannot mate again for various reasons.

At the time of the laying, in summer, the female Hermann's turtle digs a hole in which she deposits 1 to 5 eggs. The eggs usually hatch in September, after 2 to 2.5 months, to release the young, which weigh only 10 g. Contrary to the other species of turtles, Hermann's young do not feed as soon as they are born, and this fasting lasts about 30 days.

Weather conditions have an impact on the survival of the embryos, they all die above 33°C. The sex of the young is only determined by the outside temperature. Thus, only males are found between 27 and 29°C, only females between 31 and 33°C, and if the temperature is between 30 and 31°C, both sexes are equally represented.

Check the origin of the Hermann's turtle before buying it.
An endangered animal, the Hermann's turtle was banned from sale in France in 1985 and then authorized again in 1986, on condition that its father and mother were themselves born in captivity. This rule limits the risks of poaching and black market.

When one wishes to buy a Hermann's turtle, it is therefore essential to check its origin to ensure that it is not a wild animal prohibited for sale.

Welcoming a Hermann's tortoise: obligatory authorization
In order to breed a Hermann's turtle, a permit must be requested from the Departmental Directorate of Social Cohesion and Population Protection (DDCSPP). This is the former Direction départementale des services vétérinaires. This obligation concerns all New Pets (NAC).

In addition, a certificate of capacity is required as well as an authorization to open an establishment if one wishes to breed more than 6 Hermann's turtles.

How do you raise a Hermann's turtle?
The food which one can give to a tortoise of Hermann is of vegetable origin, namely dandelion, prickly pear, sow-thistle, parsley, rocket, evening primrose, plantain, clover, rocket, cress, endive, radish leaves, lamb's lettuce, alfalfa, nettle. Vegetable peelings, milk-based foods, meat, fish, seafood, bread, cakes and sweets are prohibited. Once a week it can be given leek green, the aerial parts of hibiscus, bramble leaves, mango, soy sprouts, kiwi, Romaine.

It is necessary to have a garden to accommodate a Hermann's turtle because this species cannot live in a terrarium except from its birth to the age of 3 months where it is necessary to keep it indoors. It is necessary to prepare its arrival well and to know its needs so that it can live as long as possible without falling sick. She therefore needs :

  • An enclosure that is sufficiently spacious and secure because it is vulnerable: it must protect it from predators such as wild boar, foxes, genets, weasels and badgers, and hens, ravens, rats and crows.
  • A 50 to 60 cm high fence because this species of turtle will always be tempted to climb it to venture outside its enclosure. The fence alone is thus to be proscribed, but a flat base of about twenty centimetres in height limits the risks of escapades (and climbing).
  • Healthy soil, at least part of which is completely grass-free and composed of plant compost. The ground of the enclosure must be irregular at least on the periphery and it is useful to put a stone here and there. These arrangements allow the turtle to get back on its feet if ever it were to tumble down and find itself on its shell.
  • A corner of sufficient sunshine at the hottest hours of the day, between 10 and 16h.
  • A shady area.
  • A clump of vegetation where the turtle can shelter or hide. A shrub is very suitable.
  • Of a water point a little larger than the turtle but whose depth is lower than the height of the animal in order to avoid the risks of drowning. It is necessary to change the water as soon as it is dirty.


The hibernation period being vital for the turtle, it must be respected even when the animal is bred in captivity. It begins in mid-November and ends in mid-March. During all this time, the organism goes into lethargy. Breathing slows down and so does the heart rate.

Before hibernation it is necessary to:

  • Allow him to bathe every day in lukewarm water,
  • Reduce the food portion and then stop feeding the turtle so that when the time comes, its digestive tract is completely empty,
  • Give him a worming pill,
  • Place dead leaves in his enclosure and set up a small watertight hut.
  • Make sure that the temperature of the shelter is between 5 and 7°C throughout the hibernation period.


At the end of this period, the enclosure must be cleared of dead leaves and the place where the turtle has hibernated must be kept clear.

When raising a Hermann's turtle in a temperate or cold climate, one should not expect to have young. It is also strongly advised against trying to have the female turtle covered if you do not have an incubator and if she cannot find a suitable place to dig a hole. A turtle that cannot lay its eggs becomes seriously ill. Egg retention is a condition frequently encountered in its animals when they live in captivity.