The story of Hermanni tortoises
Tortoises dig wholes under ground and sleep most of the autumn and winter. Grandparents always come out first. Some of them are more half century old. Then the younger ones pop their heads from the ground, followed by the new born babies, smaller than a palm of a hand. We wash them all and then the feast begins. They eat and eat and eat. Then they just lay down under the sun and do what tortoises do best – relax.
The most important thing you should know about Hermanni tortoises is that they are protected species in Croatia. These tortoises are a frequent inhabitant of gardens in the Dalmatian region. They became endangered due to environmental change, overhunting, fires and illegal trade. Taking them out of the country is strictly prohibited and you could end up paying a huge fine for doing so. Unfortunately, some people still try to do so. In 2016 Croatian customs prevent smuggling of over 700 of these beautiful animals.
Hermanni or Hermann’s tortoise lives in southern Europe. They can live up to 75 years, walk as fast as 8 kilometers per hour and weight up to 2,5 kilograms. They are almost completely herbivore, eating dandelions, clover, strawberries, and many other plants. You can also feed them smaller amounts of snails, earthworms, slugs and insects. If you’ve seen them in action in our garden, you’ll know they are polygynandrous (promiscuous); males and females both have multiple mates. You can find out more fun facts on Hermanni tortoises here.
Special Hermanni tortoise species
According to enthusiast Chris Leone, who has a whole website dedicated to Hermanni tortoises, the tortoises living in Dalmatia are entirely different subspecies compared to ones found in Italy or Greece. He describes them in great detail, so if you are interested in what sets them apart, how they look like, what they eat and where they live, make sure to have a look at his website. The map showing locations of 3 different subtypes of Hermanni tortoises is taken from Wikipedia
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