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How Many Species And Sub-Species In The Genus?


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#1 quacker1964

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 08:39 PM

Up until recently I never knew there were so many species of tortoise.  Now, having read my first book, I notice the Hermann have several sub-species. 

 

As a birder/birdwatcher, I know this happens with birds - especially gulls (Herring Gulls) and Wagtails etc. so am aware of the phenomena.  With birds it is oft argued to be more to do with splitting species into sub-species and even sub-sub-species and regionals etc.  I don't get involved with all that as my pleasure in birds is seeing them and although I travel all over the UK to watch birds - seeing as many different species is not the be all and end all.

 

Back to the book, at the time of writing, it isn't clear if they were official. 

 

So that is twice over the weekend I came across the term Testudo hermann herc.  or Dalmation thanks to my reading and an email from Karen lol.

 

Are these all recognised and official, or is it something that takes a while for official ratification? 

 

Steve



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Posted 27 April 2013 - 11:20 PM

In hermanni, the three different subspecies have been recognised for some time - Testudo hermanni boettgeri, Testudo hermanni hermanni and Testudo hermanni hercegovinensis. :)



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Posted 28 April 2013 - 10:48 AM

I think the Order would be Chelonia, that covers the land and aquatic species. The Chelonia are divided into two sub-orders, Pleurodira and Cryptodira. That division has to do with how the creature folds the head and neck into the shell. Under each of the sub orders there are a total of 294 different species. There are far more chelonia species that live in the water than there are on the land.

 

I agree with Sue that there are 3 subspecies of hermann recognised. But they are not recognised by everyone - some experts question if these are really different. Among all the hermanns there is quite a lot of variation in colour and shape etc. And among the subspecies there is are regional 'types' as well which complicate the situation even more. 

 

One way of looking at this is to say that the Mediterranean tortoises that are still there in nature are the fragmented remnants of an animal that once covered a much wider area. Within these islands of tortoises there are left, some features have become consistent over time. It doesn't necessarily mean they are a subspecies.

 

With the hermanns, there have been changes in the past in how these tortoises are grouped and described, and it could change again. I think there is something similar with the Gracea species.

Of my subspecies, there is a vast difference in colouration(some being attributed to age), shape etc, Babies however, are not so different ;)



#4 quacker1964

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 01:06 PM

Can I take it the dwarf species is not "officially" recognised then? T Hermanni sarda as well as T hermanni peleponnesica.

I blame Lance Jepson and his book for mentioning this in such a throwaway fashion lol.



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Posted 28 April 2013 - 01:23 PM

No, no such species as dwarf hermanns, they are usually referring to Testudo hermanni hermanni, although some dealers have jumped on the bandwagon, advertised their tortoises as such and stated they do not need papers, which of course is untrue, not to mention highly illegal :(



#6 quacker1964

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 06:25 PM

I think the people that decide on species are called taxonomists. They don't necessarily agree among themselves and sometimes there are debates and arguments. But most people that have any interest in hermanns recognise the 3 subspecies that Sue stated. 

 

The tortoises that I have are Hermanni Hermanni and someone who knows a lot about them reckoned the first one I had was Corsican. It kept me occupied for a long time trying to find some more that were also being described as Corsican but I eventually did. I have an article that was published in a german reptile magazine in which the author makes an argument for 8 different types of hermanni hermanni! 

Taxonomists - a great word by the way - may be prevalent in a lot of hobbies and walks of life.  I mentioned it briefly that they are at the same game with wild birds and "splitting" species on so-called scientific grounds.  (I am somewhat cynical and believe they are just adding another species to add to their list of birds seen).
  I can say that on here but never on my bird forum ;)



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Posted 29 April 2013 - 08:03 PM

I remember not so very long ago, when I phoned the tortoise 'oracle', re my hermanns and worrying whether or not they might be different subspecies, being told that if they looked similar, then not to worry about it - said person would obviously deny it now though haha  As it happens they are all Thb, so not a problem.



#8 quacker1964

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 05:23 PM

Thanks for increasing my knowledge.  Until very recently I thought there were two types of tortoise.  Big ones and little ones! I also believed they were fed fresh lettuce and greens with the odd bit of fruit as a treat.  I thought substrate was the posh word for gravel in my tropical fish tank and would expect a tortoise to live in a box with plenty of bedding such as hay/straw etc.

 

Everyday I'm increasing my knowledge - I even had a discussion with my car share on the way home from work today where I got all jumpy about his assumptions re: tort care.  I think this is a good thing.  He even queried why i wouldn't just get one from the petshop and wasn't aware of the ban on importing tortoises and the necessity of home-bred and certification.  Mind you he insisted a tomato was a vegetable, so I guess I had my work cut out lol.

 

Even offering to take mine in if/when I go on holiday! 



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Posted 30 April 2013 - 07:27 PM

Oh dear, it is never easy talking to the 'old school' tortoise keepers.

Imported tortoises are not banned though, just not controlled in the way they should be ;)






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