We’re used to seeing wild boar or foxes on the track, especially at night, but today we saw a wild tortoise: Hermann’s Tortoise (Testudo Hermanni). In 1789, France was busy sacking the Bastille, guillotining aristos, and starting the Revolution, but Monsieur Hermann was pottering about the Maures hills in the sunshine in the Var when he came across this little tortoise and identified it for the first time. The variety is mostly found in the Maures hills, behind St Tropez, so it was particularly special to find one near us!
This map shows the distribution of this tortoise, so you can see it’s rare in France, only found in the region round us, and protected. You aren’t allowed to disturb it or move it, under threat of a serious fine. In fact, if moved, this little tortoise will try to return to where you found it, because they can sense the earth’s magnetic field and have an extremely powerful homing capability.
We photographed this one dashing off to eat some more grass.