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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
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

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee