Like all reptiles, tortoise is ectothermic (organism with body temperature is the same as that of the external environment and is not produced by the body itself).

The tortoise depends on the outside temperature unlike endotherms (mammals and birds) who maintain constant internal temperature. She warms with the heat of the sun, it is said thermoregulation.

When it reaches a temperature between 25 and 30°C, it can fully assume its activities like eating and find partners.

Beyond these temperatures, it seeks to protect from intense sun, under bushes for example. Thermoregulation is an important activity that depends on the quality of the habitat.


Hermann’s tortoises are active for 8 to 9 months, from the first half of March until mid-November, with activity peaks in May-June and September-October.
It is a diurnal species, active on a daily basis from March to mid-June and from September until hibernation.



Hibernation lasts from mid-November to mid-March. During this period, they bury themselves in the ground, by a rock, a shrub orin a wooded area, often leaving the upper part of their carapace
above ground, which makes them vulnerable to mechanized operations (flailing, etc.).

Life_tortue_hermann_84_soptom_cycle_annuel.jpgA year tortoise (SOPTOM, 2012).

Sexual maturity of the Hermann’s tortoise is late, at the age of 12 years. The female has an organ (spermatheca) retain sperm for several years. Its eggs can be fertilized even though it did not meet male for several years.

The egg incubation period lasts 97 days, and outbreaks are related to the first rains of late summer. They usually occur during the first half of September.

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The mortality of the species is important in the egg stage and child. In contrast, sub-adults and adults are characterized by a high annual survival and, under normal conditions, enjoy exceptional longevity (up to 60 years in the wild).


This animal is sedentary and remains faithful to its home range. It moves within a small home range between 1 and 4 hectares.


As a rule, juveniles remain close to their birth place, at least for the first years of their lives, whereas immatures tend to go further afield.

If individuals have been forced to leave their home range because of disturbance to their habitat (for example by fire or damage caused by human activities), they will attempt to return. The
same occurs when animals have been intentionally moved.

Hermann’s tortoises are essentially herbivores. They forage for annual or perennial plants in the ground vegetation, particularly Fabaceae and Asteraceae.


They may eat fruit, invertebrates (snails, wood lice, coleoptera, worms), as well as mammal remains or excrement.
Their water requirements are met through their diet, but in summer they may seek humid areas or water points where they can drink.



Predation pressure affects mainly the eggs and young tortoises.

Habitat changes for over half a century have seen an important reversion to forest, forcing the tortoises to lay their eggs in small areas.


Natural egg predation has increased, and locally the usual predators (stone marten, fox and badger) have had more success. The extraordinary growth in wild boar populations in the last thirty years has also increased predation on eggs and juveniles.

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Dogs also represent an important threat for juveniles, as well as adults. Approximately 30% of veterinary care given to wild tortoises is for wounds caused by dogs. Close to villages and
housing estates, a high proportion of individuals has wounds caused by dogs: severed limbs, gnawed carapaces.