No 5th Vertebral Scute?

Lui

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My 7 y/o decided she wanted a "Turtle" a few months back and saved and worked to make it happen. We welcomed Tor Tor into our family a month or so ago. He is a Hermann Tortoise. If anyone calls him a turtle my daughter is quick to correct them. He has been a joy so far. I was doing some research to see his point of origin which led me to a number of comparisons between eastern and western Hermann Tortoises. When reading the differences between the two I noticed that every tortoise picture I saw had their scutes arranged different than Tor tor. He has three vertebral scutes only. Is he in fact a Hermann? If so could anyone help me understand more about him. He was much lighter colored than the other Hermann tortoises in his cage when we bought him. Any help would be much appreciated. DSC_0026.JPG
 

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domalle

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My 7 y/o decided she wanted a "Turtle" a few months back and saved and worked to make it happen. We welcomed Tor Tor into our family a month or so ago. He is a Hermann Tortoise. If anyone calls him a turtle my daughter is quick to correct them. He has been a joy so far. I was doing some research to see his point of origin which led me to a number of comparisons between eastern and western Hermann Tortoises. When reading the differences between the two I noticed that every tortoise picture I saw had their scutes arranged different than Tor tor. He has three vertebral scutes only. Is he in fact a Hermann? If so could anyone help me understand more about him. He was much lighter colored than the other Hermann tortoises in his cage when we bought him. Any help would be much appreciated. View attachment 148221

He has an aberrant but symmetrical arrangement of carapacial scutes.
He is a very interesting and unique little animal.
 

Yvonne G

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Hi, and welcome to the Forum!

Oh, wow! He's very different, and beautiful! I'm a big fan of the aberrant scute patterns.

Let's get @HermanniChris to tell us if he thinks this is a Hermanni
 

HermanniChris

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Definitely a Hermann's and an eastern Hermann's at that. The vertebral scute formation is common and is nothing to worry about. Beautiful tortoise.
 

domalle

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Definitely a Hermann's and an eastern Hermann's at that. The vertebral scute formation is common and is nothing to worry about. Beautiful tortoise.

While misalignment, split or additional and missing scutes may be common,
are you saying that the symmetrical arrangement of this little turtle's carapace scutes is not unique and special?
 

Carol S

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Beautiful tortoise. I love his scute pattern. It makes him very unique.
 

HermanniChris

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The symmetrical arrangement of the anomaly is not necessarily common but is definitely seen in certain tortoises such as Hermann's and particularly the eastern subspecies. Some of these specific anomalies are thought to be related to genetics and not always incubation temperatures or interruptions during the incubation period. While the more usual extra, split or additional scute arrangements are found in many other species (and they do still occur in Hermann's) this neat, symmetrical example is encountered on numerous occasions and seems to be associated with the species at hand here.
 

domalle

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The symmetrical arrangement of the anomaly is not necessarily common but is definitely seen in certain tortoises such as Hermann's and particularly the eastern subspecies. Some of these specific anomalies are thought to be related to genetics and not always incubation temperatures or interruptions during the incubation period. While the more usual extra, split or additional scute arrangements are found in many other species (and they do still occur in Hermann's) this neat, symmetrical example is encountered on numerous occasions and seems to be associated with the species at hand here.

"this neat, symmetrical example is encountered on numerous occasions"
I would be very surprised if that were true.
Unique means one of a kind.
I will stand corrected if you can provide evidence in support.
I acknowledge your status as a leading expert in the field.
But I don't want to further dampen the owner's excitement at their discovery
of this "unique" manifestation of variation in their special little animal.
 

HermanniChris

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Lui, let me first start by saying I do apologize if I dampened any possible excitement regarding this animal. I surely wasn't responding to your thread in a "Santa Claus isn't real" manner. I'm sure you can tell by my contributions to this forum/site that my intentions are solely to help keeper and tortoise while clearing up any myths and assumptions along the way, if I can. As you can see in my first reply to your post, I clearly state that you have a beautiful animal.

Taking a closer look at the definition of the word unique....

"-belonging or connected to (one particular person, group, or place)."
So, to quote myself from earlier, "The symmetrical arrangement of the anomaly is not necessarily common but is definitely seen in certain tortoises such as Hermann's and particularly the eastern subspecies."
Summed up, I am saying that this arrangement is typically unique to Hermann's and further tied to the eastern subspecies. This has been reported from numerous parties in several countries where they are bred either commercially or privately.

..and now for the evidence.

The following photos represent 3 of the 22 animals (if my notes are entirely correct) that were hatched with similar anomalies in 2013-2014. Some hatched by myself and others by another party. All but one are of the eastern subspecies of Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni boettgeri). One animal with a different situation was a western Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni hermanni).

These two photos are of eastern specimens showing just about the exact same arrangement as the featured animal above. The main difference would be that the 4th coastal scutes of the featured one actually touch each other and meet at the base of the 3rd vertebral scute.



This photo is of the western specimen:


What's interesting about these anomalies is that all the eggs which resulted in them where incubated at a wide range of temperatures. Some low to produce males while others high to produce females. All remained within the safe temperatures recommended to incubate this species and its subspecies. Of course we never really know exactly what kind of slight fluctuations the eggs may experience during the entire incubation period but given the fact that we watch our incubators very closely, almost 24/7, we can assume that they never went through anything detrimental. So to potentially back up a theory that has already surfaced many times, it may very well be genetic in certain cases.
 

domalle

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Lui, let me first start by saying I do apologize if I dampened any possible excitement regarding this animal. I surely wasn't responding to your thread in a "Santa Claus isn't real" manner. I'm sure you can tell by my contributions to this forum/site that my intentions are solely to help keeper and tortoise while clearing up any myths and assumptions along the way, if I can. As you can see in my first reply to your post, I clearly state that you have a beautiful animal.

Taking a closer look at the definition of the word unique....

"-belonging or connected to (one particular person, group, or place)."
So, to quote myself from earlier, "The symmetrical arrangement of the anomaly is not necessarily common but is definitely seen in certain tortoises such as Hermann's and particularly the eastern subspecies."
Summed up, I am saying that this arrangement is typically unique to Hermann's and further tied to the eastern subspecies. This has been reported from numerous parties in several countries where they are bred either commercially or privately.

..and now for the evidence.

The following photos represent 3 of the 22 animals (if my notes are entirely correct) that were hatched with similar anomalies in 2013-2014. Some hatched by myself and others by another party. All but one are of the eastern subspecies of Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni boettgeri). One animal with a different situation was a western Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni hermanni).

These two photos are of eastern specimens showing just about the exact same arrangement as the featured animal above. The main difference would be that the 4th coastal scutes of the featured one actually touch each other and meet at the base of the 3rd vertebral scute.



This photo is of the western specimen:


What's interesting about these anomalies is that all the eggs which resulted in them where incubated at a wide range of temperatures. Some low to produce males while others high to produce females. All remained within the safe temperatures recommended to incubate this species and its subspecies. Of course we never really know exactly what kind of slight fluctuations the eggs may experience during the entire incubation period but given the fact that we watch our incubators very closely, almost 24/7, we can assume that they never went through anything detrimental. So to potentially back up a theory that has already surfaced many times, it may very well be genetic in certain cases.

Well, your first examples certainly look "unique" too.
Thank you for the supporting evidence and information.
I stand corrected (and flat-footed).
Keep up the good work.
 

Lui

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I'm just happy to have a tortoise in the house and am glad I am giving him the care he needs and not what another type might need. Him being a different type of tortoise was my main concern. It is nice to find out that his scute pattern is unique but frankly, besides the people on this forum, no one will see our tortoise and know his pattern is unique. I do love his shell though.

Almost all of the shells of adult Easter Hermann's I've seen have been mostly dull. Is there a way to prevent this from happening? I love the vibrancy of colors in his shell.
 

domalle

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I'm just happy to have a tortoise in the house and am glad I am giving him the care he needs and not what another type might need. Him being a different type of tortoise was my main concern. It is nice to find out that his scute pattern is unique but frankly, besides the people on this forum, no one will see our tortoise and know his pattern is unique. I do love his shell though.

Almost all of the shells of adult Easter Hermann's I've seen have been mostly dull. Is there a way to prevent this from happening? I love the vibrancy of colors in his shell.

Just like us, babies are cuter.
And we all lose luster as we age.
Turtles are well designed for survival evolutionarily.
Their skin and shell are tough and protective but are weathered by the elements in their rugged environments.
Good care and culture in captivity can contribute to a lustrous vibrant appearance.
And there are cosmetic products that may help preserve that healthy youthful look of your "unique" little guy.
 

Meesh

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My 7 y/o decided she wanted a "Turtle" a few months back and saved and worked to make it happen. We welcomed Tor Tor into our family a month or so ago. He is a Hermann Tortoise. If anyone calls him a turtle my daughter is quick to correct them. He has been a joy so far. I was doing some research to see his point of origin which led me to a number of comparisons between eastern and western Hermann Tortoises. When reading the differences between the two I noticed that every tortoise picture I saw had their scutes arranged different than Tor tor. He has three vertebral scutes only. Is he in fact a Hermann? If so could anyone help me understand more about him. He was much lighter colored than the other Hermann tortoises in his cage when we bought him. Any help would be much appreciated. View attachment 148221
Wow he is interesting for sure! So beautiful. I was worried about my baby female Hermann have 6 vertebral scutes. This Lil guy is unique
 

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