Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Newly hatched Mediterranean Tortoises
These days when the fields become green again after the recent rains, we have seen in the land surrounding the hotel some tortoise hatchlings.
It seems that the tortoise (Testudo hermanni hermanni) was introduced in Menorca some three thousand years ago, and it was a staple food for the first settlers of the island.
Early in the morning, the animals leave their nightly shelters, which are usually hollows protected by thick bushes or hedges, to bask in the sun and warm their bodies. They then roam about the Mediterranean meadows of their habitat in search of food. They determine which plants to eat by the sense of smell.
Between May and July, female Hermann’s tortoises deposit between two and 12 eggs into flask-shaped nests dug into the soil. Most females lay more than one clutch each season. The pinkish-white eggs are incubated for around 90 days and, like many reptiles, the temperature at which the eggs are incubated determines the hatchlings sex. At 26 °C, only males will be produced, while at 30 °C, all the hatchlings will be female.
In nature, the animals dig their nightly shelters out and spend the relatively mild Mediterranean winters there. During this time, their heart and breathing rates drop notably.