Tortoise (Hermann’s Tortoise) / Testudo hermanni

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The bony shell is their only defence; the top is called a carapace.

The sex of a tortoise is determined by the temperature at which its egg is incubated.

Hermann’s tortoises originate from the Mediterranean and have yellow and black patterned shells although the colour may fade with age.

They live in meadows and woodland where they can readily find shelter when the sun gets too hot and hibernate in winter under piles of dead leaves. They feed on the leaves and flowers of meadow plants.

They breed between May and July when the eggs are laid in a nest which the female digs in the soil. Each female will lay 2 -12 eggs and these hatch after 90 days or so.

The most distinguishing feature of all tortoise species is the familiar shell. The hard upper shell, known as a carapace, is made of small bones covered by plates of keratin, the same material as human hair and nails.

As the tortoise grows the additional layers of keratin cause growth rings. Average life expectancy is 60-70 years, but records show some tortoises have survived to more than 100 years old.

The carapace and plastron – lower shell – protect their soft body from predators, and the protection means they do not show aggression or attempt to flee when disturbed.