Pet of the week: The Hermann's tortoise


Who's hiding in here? Testudo hermanni, or Hermann's tortoise, sometimes referred to as a Mediterranean tortoise. He's quite little, for a tortoise, growing to just eight inches, which is smaller than a giant African land snail, for crying out loud.

Notoriously slow, isn't he? Well, he certainly likes to take his time, as that is one thing your tortoise has plenty of. Even the wee Hermann's tortoise can live beyond 75 years, a fact that any potential owners should be acutely aware of – there is a distinct possibility that your pet will outlive you. Your average hare, on the other hand, is lucky to make it to five in the wild. Not that it's a race, of course.

Tortoises are a doddle to keep... Not so, and this is one of the myths that the British Association of Tortoise Keepers tries to debunk. Tortoises require plenty of care and attention, and cannot simply be left at the bottom of the garden with the odd lettuce leaf and their name Tipp-Ex'd on their back. While we're on that subject, who ever thought it was a good idea to write "Lucky" on a tortoise's shell? Would you tattoo "Fido" on to your dog's back? Don't answer that.

So what is their ideal environment? Outdoors, they like to bask in the sun, but it's not just a question of leaving them outside all day, as they require shelter. This should come in the form of a pen – predator- and escape-proof – with plenty of grass to munch on and a small hut with hay for further munching. At nights, it is advisable to bring him in to the warmth, and a nice cosy vivarium (tank!) for rest. Hermanns are quite active, and will burrow and climb, but make sure they can't topple over, as this can prove fatal. Hermanns will need to hibernate over winter, and to get the conditions right you will need to seek out advice from the specialists.

What about lettuce leaves? Diet is crucial for the well-being of tortoises – they need low-fat, mineral-rich, high-fibre foods. It takes a staggering three weeks for them to digest food, and your scraps from the kitchen will go through them too quickly. A broad range of different grasses and salads is advised, such as endive and mustard cress. For a full menu, you should get advice from the BATK website (batk.org.uk).

Yes, but where's the love? Tortoises are affectionate creatures, and they readily recognise their owners. Plus, there is something comforting about knowing you are in the presence of a creature whose ancestors have roamed the earth for some 200 million years.

Where can I get one? BATK has a re-homing scheme set up for members, and annual membership is very reasonable. You should under no circumstances buy a tortoise from a pet shop without its paperwork. The illegal trade in tortoises is a criminal offence and can lead to up to five years in prison for both the buyer and seller. So there.

What would be his motto?

"You can be sure of (a) shell", "Hard hats must be worn in this area", "Live slow, die old, have a beautiful carapace".

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Suggested Topics
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?