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The Mallorcan Land Tortoise


Three species of indigenous tortoises exist in Mallorca. The Testudo hermanni (shown here) is a land tortoise and can be found in the eastern parts of the island, in particular in the Parc Natural de la Península de Llevant. The Testudo graeca is another land tortoise which is at home in areas to the West of the island, such as in the Tramuntana mountain region and in the Parc Natural de sa Dragonera. Both animals are rather reclusive. I believe that they are protected as well. The third species on the other hand, the Emys orbicularis is a fresh water terrapin; its habitat is in Mallorca’s torrentes and brack-waters, including the wetlands of the Parc Natural de s’Albufera de Mallorca. Again, the Emys orbicularis is a protected species.

There is also a Mediterranean sea turtle, the Caretta caretta, but that would be another story for some time in the future. I have not seen any Mallorcan sea turtles in the wild yet, hence I do not have a photo available. My blog entry on the Caretta caretta may thus have to be on a stand-by position for a little while.

The photo was taken near Sant Joan, Mallorca, Spain. The date: April 22nd, 2009. The time was 11:45:58.

12 replies »

  1. Single Testudo hermanni spotted crossing the road while we were cycling from Sos Ferrers to Arta (Ma3334), near Infern Vell.

  2. Whilst holidaying in Majorca and driving from Inca to Puerta Pollensa in the north we came across notices which asked to beware of Tortuga or tortoises. Thinking these were giants for us to beware of, we smiled considerably when we saw a tiny, baby tortoise striding purposefully across the road. Naturally we gave it a wide berth. We later learned that they had done their best to protect the indigenous species of Tortuga Hermani Hermani in reserves between Alcudia and Puerta Polensa and also Alcudia and the east coast.

    • we have just come back from Alcudia, Majorca, which we have been to on numerous occasions and never saw a tortoise. Imagine our surprise when walking across the lane near our villa at santa margalida were two reasonably sized tortoises. I thought they had escaped from somewhere so we took them back to the villa and waited for Sebastion, the Majorcan owner of the villa, to arrive. HE DID AND EXPLAINED TO US THAT WE HAD NOT FOUND SOMEONES WANDERING PETS, JUST A WILD TORTOISE AND HE CAREFULLY PUT THEM BACK ON THE GROUND WHERE THEY CASUALLY SET OFF WALKING….. TOWARDS THE ORANGE GROVES….. QUITE QUICKLY FOR A TORTOISE……..

    • Have just come back from a walk round Marriott Son Antem where I saw one of these crossing a path between shrubs on the south boundary.

  3. Easter 2012 cycling in Majorca, I saw two. First one wondering in the middle of the M3330 road north of Petra towards the coast. Picked him up and put him over the fence into a field. About four inches across, easily able to pick it up with one hand. He hid his head inside his shell but his back legs came around and tried to scratch me. Assumed it was a stray pet until I did some research.
    Second one was on the headland south east of s’Aranel, not too far from Son Antem. Stopped by the road side for a “natural break” and nearly soaked the little fella.

  4. Whilst driving on back road to Cala Pi saw a small tortoise (approx 4″ shell) crossing the road. Cute fella, picked him up and put him over a wall to prevent him getting squashed. Was worried that this was not the right thing to do as frst thought he was a stray pet but happier now that we have found out that they are indigenous to the area.

  5. We saw a medium size tortoise strolling by our villa in Cala Ferrera. We gave him some lettuce and then he moved on. He looked very fit and healthy.

    • hi Lynne,
      how exciting. Good on you for feeding him but I am afraid that lettuce is not a good feed option for the Mallorcan land tortoise. Head (iceberg) lettuce should never be feed as it contains very little nutrition, but dark green leaf lettuces (e.g Romaine) can be feed sparingly. Mind you, a one-off feed on lettuce will probably not have done too much damage. Greetings to Cala Ferrera.

  6. We had a lovely walk around the Son Real nature reserve near Can Picafort a few weeks ago and came across a tortoise in amongst the beautiful spring flowers. Much to my ignorance I didn’t know they were native to Majorca. I think we were lucky to spot it.

  7. Saw separately, two tortoises on the blue running track at Son Antem this morning, one much larger than the other, quite happily munching away! First time we have seen them in fourteen years.

  8. Just finished a walk in Can Picafort and came across a strolling tortoise. Quite happily let me take some pics then we left him to go on his way.

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