Hermann’s tortoise

(Testudo hermanni)
The species is distributed in Southern Europe – from the northeastern coast of Spain to the Bosphorus and many of the Mediterranean islands.
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Distribution of the species

The species is distributed in Southern Europe – from the northeastern coast of Spain to the Bosphorus and many of the Mediterranean islands. On the Balkan Peninsula it is absent from large areas in Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Bulgarian Dobrogea; with single populations in Romanian Dobrogea. In Bulgaria it is found throughout the country, except its northeastern part. In the mountains of Southwestern Bulgaria, it is found up to about 1 450 m above sea level. The population is strongly influenced by human activity. Only about 10% of the populations are in relatively good condition – mainly at the foot of the mountains in southwestern Bulgaria, the Eastern Rhodopes, Sakar and Strandzha.

Description of the species (biological and ecological features)

The tail of the Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni) ends with a horned spike.

Daily active species, as in spring and autumn it is active almost all day, and in the hottest months only in the morning and evening. It feeds mainly on herbaceous plants (mainly legumes, composites, Rosaceae), less often on fallen fruits (mulberries, greengageс, etc.). Sometimes with plant food it swallows small invertebrates (worms, mollusks, etc.).

Copulation is in April-May, less often in late summer (from late July to August and September). From May to July, the females lay 4-5 white eggs 2-3 times, which they bury in holes dug by them on slopes with southern exposure. The young individuals hatch after 90-120 days. Tortoises winter in loose soil, usually on southern slopes, burying to a depth of several tens of centimeters. They come to the surface in April (sometimes also at the end of March).

The Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni) inhabits low mountain and hillside areas, most often overgrown with sparse forests and shrubs.

Conservation status


Conservation state

The Hermann’s tortoise is a protected species included in Annexes 2 and 3 of the Biodiversity Act (BDA) and Annex II of the Bern Convention. The species is also included in Annex II and Annex IV of Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (Habitats Directive).

The Hermann’s tortoise is part of the Red Data Book of Bulgaria (2015) with category “Endangered” (EN) and also included in the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species with category Near Threatened (NT).


*Note: For the description of amphibians and reptiles is used information from: Golemanski, V. & al. (eds). 2015. Red Data Book of the Republic of Bulgaria. Vol. 2. Animals. BAS & MoEW, Sofia [English ed.: ISBN 978-954-9746-22-8 (IBER – BAS), 978-954-8497-18-3 (MoEW)]; Biserkov, V. (Editor), 2007. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Bulgaria. Sofia, Green Balkans, 196 pp.; the website of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).