Tortoise alert in rural Mallorca

Signs of spring are springing up all over Mallorca and, in our neck of the woods, these include sightings of Mediterranean tortoises. We’ve seen quite a few in the past couple of weeks, either plodding across the lane or negotiating their way across our lumpy land.

Mediterranean tortoise, Mallorca

The spring o’clock alarm has raised this one.

These are dangerous times for the sleepy adults that have recently emerged bleary-eyed (I assume) from their winter hibernation. Life can be even more hazardous for the newly born tortoises as they are almost impossible to spot in the undergrowth.

Yesterday our part-time neighbours- and very dear friends – from Yorkshire told us they’d found three baby tortoises in their garden – each no more than the size of a British 50-pence coin. Sadly it’s all too easy not to spot these cute little creatures as they amble around the land; our neighbours fortunately saw their ‘foundlings’ before they came to any harm.

As a follow-up to my last post, if you’re planning to light a bonfire on Mallorca, please check the pile before setting it alight. In fact, if you’re lighting a bonfire anywhere this spring, it’s worth raking gently through the heap first: the heart of a large pile of vegetation makes a cosy winter refuge for hibernating creatures of all types.

©Jan Edwards 2017

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2 thoughts on “Tortoise alert in rural Mallorca

  1. Hi there Jan.

    I’m an avid tortoise keeper. We keep 3 species. Homeana, redfoot and radiated.
    In my quest to understand how tortoise survive and deal with the harsh habitats around the globe I want to find some tortoises in the wild so I can observe. On the island of Majorca I believe there are 2 species. Hermanni and Graeca.
    Is there any specific areas I can go searching for wild torts.
    Me and my wife were thinking of coming over for a few nights in search of tortoises.
    When is the best time of yr?
    Are they active in April?
    Could you give me some insight on your annual climate. When is rainy season? When do they copulate, nest and hatch?

    • Hi Craig

      Thank you for your message; I’ve been out for a few days, hence the delay in replying. Although we see tortoises on our land from time to time, I am not an expert on these lovely creatures, I’m afraid.

      Rainy season here tends to be from November to February. This year, for instance, we had three times the usual rainfall for February alone. A wet one! I think we don’t usually see them until late April/early May and, sadly, our sightings have been decreasing. As I’m not expert, I have put a couple of links below that may be of interest to you. I also found a forum – which you probably know about – called Shelled Warriors, which had a thread about tortoises in the Balearics.

      I am sorry I can’t be more helpful than this.

      http://balearsculturaltour.net/fichaespecie.php?idioma=en&pag=6idioma=en&id=9&pag=6

      https://mallorcaphotoblog.com/2009/04/27/the-mallorcan-land-tortoise/
      Three species of indigenous tortoises exist in Mallorca. The Testudo hermanni 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.”

      Kind regards, Jan

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