These tortoises are one of the most popular species of tortoise in the UK to keep as pets, these tortoises have an attractive appearance and charm that cause many to become enamoured with them. These tortoises are from Mediterranean regions in Europe but due to loss of habitat and over-collection from the pet-industry, these tortoises were facing the danger of extinction. Captive breeding and effects to conserve these species are showing good results on repopulating the species. With that said, let’s look into what you will need to be researching if you’ve made the decision to look into buying and homing a Hermann’s tortoise.
This species of tortoise is known for their calm and gentle personalities making them great pets; they enjoy digging, climbing, sunbathing and foraging and will provide you with many, many years of companionship. These tortoises can live upwards of 50 years, so they are a lifelong commitment. If you have more than one tortoise and they are male and female, you will need to house them separately unless you are bringing them together to mate. The male tortoise can be quite aggressive when pursuing a female, so separation is advised.
As the UK will not be able to simulate their natural environment year-round, you will need to invest in a tortoise table and provide them with heating sources for them to maintain correct husbandry. You will find that many places will sell vivarium’s for Hermann’s tortoises but they are best suited to a set-up for a tortoise table; the reason these are great for a Hermann’s tortoise set up is because they allow for airflow with a humidity level that is ideal for this species. You may not think it, but tortoises do need a lot of room so it would be beneficial to be able to provide both an indoor and outdoor area for your tortoise. You can use animal wire for small animals in the summer months which will allow your tortoise to bathe in the sun. You should also provide your tortoise a shallow dish or tray of water, bushes, plants and/or small trees, and rocks.
The Hermann’s Tortoise relies on heat to regulate their body temperature from their surroundings. You will need to provide your tortoise the light and heat they need and there are various options for how you can do this. You can use a mercury vapour lamp which will allow you to provide the heat and light that they need. You will need to fit this to a holder and place it on one end of the tortoise table at the right distance to provide the temperature they need, creating a gradient. The end of the tortoise table that is furthest from the lamb should be around 15 – 22°C and directly under the lamp the basking temperature should be 32 – 38°C. To monitor the temperature, you can buy a thermometer, we would suggest a digital one as these are far more accurate than the dial type. Your Hermann’s Tortoise will need up to 14 hours of light a day and you do not need to supply them with light over night as they will be fine for their table to drop to room temperature during the night.
You need to provide your tortoise with a shallow bowl of fresh, clean water that is also large enough so your Hermann’s tortoise can bathe in it, ideally so they can submerge the lower part of their shell, or plastron, but not drown. You should also be bathing your tortoise a couple of time as week in lukewarm water to make sure any waste is free of your tortoise and lowers the risk of problems arising from uric and faecal matter.
Your tortoises’ diet should be rich in calcium and high in fibre as well as being low in carbs and protein. Wash any item you give to your tortoise to make sure they are clean and clear of pesticides and fertilisers and dust their food with a calcium supplement every time you feed them. Every other day you can dust the food with a supplement of vitamin D3 and occasionally offer them cuttlefish so they are provided with calcium and also a way to keep their beak trimmed.
As we’ve mentioned, your Hermann’s tortoise will want to dig, so you need to make sure whatever you use as substrate can facilitate this. We would suggest ProRep for tortoise, which can be found at SwellReptiles, it mimics their natural habitat so will certainly keep them happy. When you are lining your tortoise table, make sure you have filled it with enough substrate that your tortoise can bury and dig around to their hearts content. You can spray the substrate with water daily to keep it slightly moist which also helps to keep dust at bay.