Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni) is one of five tortoise species traditionally placed in the genus Testudo, which also includes the well-known marginated tortoise (T. marginata), Greek tortoise (T. graeca), and Russian tortoise (T. horsfieldii), for example. Three subspecies are known: the western Hermann's tortoise (T. h. hermanni), the eastern Hermann's tortoise (T. h. boettgeri) and Dalmatian tortoise (T. h. hercegovinensis). Sometimes mentioned as a subspecies, T. h. peleponnesica is not yet confirmed to be genetically different from T. h. boettgeri. The specific epithet honors Johann Hermann.
Hermann's tortoises are small to medium-sized tortoises from southern Europe. Young animals, and some adults, have attractive black and yellow-patterned carapaces, although the brightness may fade with age to a less distinct gray, straw, or yellow coloration. They have slightly hooked upper jaws and, like other tortoises, possess no teeth, just strong, horny beaks.Their scaly limbs are greyish to brown, with some yellow markings, and their tails bear a spur (a horny spike) at the tip. Adult males have particularly long and thick tails, and well-developed spurs, distinguishing them from females.
The eastern subspecies T. h. boettgeri is much larger than the western T. h. hermanni, reaching sizes up to 28 cm (11 inches) in length. A specimen of this size may weigh 3–4 kg (6-9 lb). T. h. hermanni rarely grows larger than 18 cm (7.5 in). Some adult specimens are as small as 7 cm (3 in).