First reptile species; Hermann’s tortoise
This week, after a few weeks summer break, I could finally start with a new series for Development. This is the first reptile species, Hermann’s tortoise. It’s also a new chapter in growth rate. Where for example Canary’s grow very quickly and the challenge is to not miss out on any important stages of their development, tortoises are the opposite; they are very slow growers and it takes several years for them to reach their final size.
Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni) can be found throughout southern Europe and can reach sizes up to 30cm. These tortoises can get very old; with the right care they easily get 80 or 100 years old. Therefore it makes sense that they are not in a hurry to quickly grow to a reasonable size. For that reason, the plan is to photograph them every two weeks instead of every week. I expect that with this interval, it will still be visible that they are slow growers, but there will be some changes visible.
Last Thursday, the breeder sent me a text that the eggs started to hatch and we agreed on scheduling the first photo shoot for that evening. The little tortoises still showed the marks of their struggle to get out of the egg and for the smallest one, that meant that his carapace wasn’t completely closed yet. Because he was the youngest, we decided that he would be our ‘model’. The baby tortoises were already pretty curious. When Marcel, the breeder, would pick them put, they would quickly hide in their carapace, but once the coast was clear, they came out to investigate. The photo studio wasn’t scary at all and needed to be explored. The fact that someone with a big black box was standing there using a flash didn’t bother them in any way.
More than enough space in the garden
After the photo shoot, I went to see the adult tortoises and that was really special. The whole backyard has been made tortoise proof and the adults have more than enough space to wander around. If they need to heat up, they have a box with a heat lamp and throughout the garden, there are hides where they can find shelter if they want to. The baby tortoises have their own area, where they are protected from predators and with a lot of plants to hide under. In winter, Hermann’s tortoises hibernate by burrowing themselves in the ground. I really liked to see that these tortoises can live in an ordinary Dutch garden with lot of room and I’m already looking forward to the next photo session with these remarkable animals.
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