The Kleinmanni Project
(Testudo Kleinmanni - Egyptian Tortoise)

We always consider ourselves privileged to have worked with so many wonderful animals and T.kleinmanni are no exception, A few years back we set out to record accounts and observations whilst working with this shy and often reported delicate species - Testudo kleinmanni the Egyptian Tortoise.

Its never a good idea to Interpret / Quantify nature so we're not going to try, this document is set to report just some of our findings.

Legal Status
The Egyptian tortoise is protected and classified as endangered - 'CITES Appendix 1' in regards to the wildlife trade this represents a ban on specimens alive, dead or any product of them being taken from the wild, with  documentation being required for captive bred specimens.

Unfortunately a number of wild caught animals are encountered for sale along the native land and reported sightings at various stalls and shops are still not as rare as one would hope, This is without doubt a negative burden on an already minimal wild populations, Although this is not the place to start a debate on poverty, and world ethics that's for the politicians, right?
Safe to say do not attempt to buy one.

Note: It is an offence to carry out a transaction for the fore mentioned illegal wildlife dead, alive or product of, this can carry very serious consequences, the authorities do not tolerate ignorance.
Eliminate the market - eliminate the trade.

Testudo Kleinmanni - Natural History
Testudo kleinmanni are native around the northern coastline of Egypt a land of very little rain fall, consistently high temperatures and mild winters, contributed by the large amounts of sunlight hours, far exceeding twice the yearly average in the UK.

This shows that T.kleinmanni are accustomed to bright sunlit dry warm days with a drop in temperature at night and also over winter by ~ 10C, We can see they do not experience cold enough conditions for traditional hibernation but are active in varying amounts throughout the year which we will look at more closely later in this Article.

Climatic Summary, Egypt in Comparison to the UK..

   Rain fall:  ~ 96% Less Rain
   Temperature:  ~ 11C Higher Average Temperatures
   Humidity:   ~ 40% Lower Relative Humidity
   Sunlight Hours:  ~ 2.3X Sunlight Hours


Below are 4 graphs of monthly climatic data (Egypt)

  • Temperatures

  • Precipitation

  • Humidity

  • Sunlight

Each can be viewed by simply pressing one of the 4 icons beneath the graph.


For more information on "Climatic Requirements of Mediterranean Tortoises"
please visit the 'Articles' page, alternatively click [here]


Meet the Kleinmanni's
Images and stats of participants.


Name: k1
D.O.B:  06 / 2003
Generation: F1
Lineage: A-A



Name: k2
D.O.B: 06 / 2003
Generation: F1
Lineage: A-A



Name: k3
D.O.B: 01 / 2003
Generation: F1
Lineage: A-A



Name: k4
D.O.B: 06 / 2003
Generation: F1
Lineage: B-B



Name: k5
D.O.B: 05 / 2003
Generation: F1
Lineage: B-B



Below are graphs that show ...

  • Growth Rate Measured
  • Mean and Standard Deviations



Statistical data and images for this section were recorded with the "Tortoise Dairy" for more information and download, please visit the 'Articles' page, alternatively click [here]

Captive Husbandry

In regards to their captive maintenance we try to mimic the natural conditions as close as reasonably practicable, Temperatures and day light cycles are some of the easiest to replicate which can be viewed in more detail from the graphs in the next section. [below]

Temperature - We maintain ~40C basking spot all year round and control the cooler months by dropping the ambient temperature.      See the table below.

Sunlight Cycle - The sunlight is provided artificially via UVB tubes which are set for winter and summer cycles.    See the table below.

Season Ambient

Day Time High

Night Time Low

Sunlight Hours


~ 16C

~ 14C



~ 30C

~ 24C


Food - Not the most straight forward as many of the native plants can simply not be collected and offered all year round in captivity. As with most Mediterranean tortoises lots of weeds, herbs, greens.
To reduce the effects of over eating and becoming spoilt on our lush food we feed every third day to encourage foraging of the left over dried weeds.

Supplements - The food items are dusted once a month with a good quality multivitamin and additional calcium every other feed.


For more information on "Dietary Requirements of Mediterranean Tortoises"
please visit the 'Articles' page, alternatively click [here]

Water - Although the combination of the food offered tends to be of a higher water content we still offer drinking water.

Air - The air is continually circulated and filtered to prevent stale spots, Additionally a flow of fresh air is supplied via a combination of forced new induction and old extraction.
This also helps prevent over heating as the hot air rises up out the extraction a flow of new air is drawn in at ground level. Air currents are directed away to prevent drafts / chills.

Housing - The group was established at hatching and have lived communally ever since, although they are more nomadic in the wild this study was based on their captive care and in this way it enables us to closely monitor the interaction with one another 24/7.
The set-up consists of a heated basking area ~40C and a cooler ambient temperature at the other end where feeding takes place, Sleeping quarters are provided via hides of half cut plant pots - readily accepted when snug fitting. A dry non-dusty substrate is used to allow the T.kleinmanni to dig in.

Captives - One of the most important points we find when working with T.kleinmanni is their timid / shy nature, They do seem to benefit from just being left alone! - [More] on this subject later.


Temperature Measurement
Amongst our environmental monitoring equipment we have several temperature sensors remotely sited and routed to a data acquisition board which snapshots 32 temperature readings from each sensor in less than a second, generating a stable value, accurate to + - 0.07C.
The electronics are all controlled by our software in which we define when and how often to take readings, the gathered data is then logged into our database, in turn this database can be queried to produce plotted graphs like the ones below enabling a visual representation of fluctuations, Including Mean, Standard Deviation, Regression etc.

Flow Chart Diagram (Temperature Data Logging)
Place the mouse cursor over the items in the Flow Chart to view info.


Enclosure Temperature Data
Week 1 - End of our winter, gradually fluctuating with background heat and air currents.
Week 2
- Start of our summer, Heat sources on at 11am and off at 11pm.

Temperature data is Ambient does not include basking spot ~40C.



Human Interaction & Shyness

One thing we found very early on was just how timid T.kleinmanni were, this could account for their reputation as being a delicate animal (a stressed tortoise can become an illness tortoise).

To quantify this "Shy / Timid " nature We conducted a few simple tests with various groups of Testudo, none of the animals were accustomed to human intervention with minimal keeper contact.

The simple tests consisted of ones such as ...

1.  With a keeper approaching and in view would the species more often ...
1 = Approach
2 = Stay still
3 =  flee
2.  Would the species more often ...
1 = Approach for food and eat
2 = Eat but with causation
3 = Wait for the keeper to go
3.  Are hides used ...
1 = Hardly ever
2 = Sometimes
3 = Nearly Always
4.  When handled would the species retract extremities ... 
1 = No
2 = Yes, but only momentarily
3 = Yes, for long periods or until released
5.  With the keeper in view and confronted with a hide or food ...
1 = Food is preferred
2 = Mixture of both at times
3 = Hide is preferred

To make a comparison on this type of study a points system was devised to judge each category in turn, the more timid the species appeared the more points were awarded, on a scale of 1 to 3.               

Species 1 2 3 4 5 Total


T.g.Ibera 2 2 2 2 1 9 Average
T.hermanni 1 1 2 1 1 6 Low
T.horsfieldii 1 1 2 2 1 7 Low
T.kleinmanni 3 3 3 3 3 15 High
T.marginata 2 2 2 2 1 9 Average

Overall Scores:    5 - 8=Low, 9 - 12=Average, 13 - 15=High

Note: Although these are simple tests, They do however show how timid T.kleinmanni can be in regards to other Testudo species, We find that in captivity T.kleinmanni  fair better when left alone making them far from being a suitable pet.


Activity Observations

With T.kleinmanni being relatively shy every time they would hear the keeper approach they would run and hide!, We needed a plan a way of observing them which would allow them to continue in their daily activities. 
So we started on a project to build in a video monitoring system as we could see via the CCTV cameras the tortoises were active until the keeper entered.

We built a prototype and wrote what would later become ... software phase 1, a flow chart of the system can be seen below, this now allowed us to monitor the T.kleinmanni activity without any intervention.

Flow Chart Diagram (Activity Data Logging)
Place the mouse cursor over the items in the Flow Chart to view info.


We initially set our software to capture an image periodically, then we could scan through these images in more detail at a latter time and record our findings, Where were the tortoises at what time were they sleeping, eating, basking, and for how long etc.
This could then be conducted on a regular / daily basis, inputting the data into the 'Tortoise Diary' we were able to spot patterns and trends.


Examples of Activity Report, Temperature Log, Activity Log and Images...

Scroll through the notes by dragging the text up or down, select a document using the icons below.

Example: Captured Images

Although we still continue to gather information in this way, We required a more accurate way of obtaining activity rates and so we started work on phase 2, The software need automation something that would not require sitting with a stop watch timing the activity by - Hours, Days, Weeks, Months, even Years ...

Phase 2 could now not only record photographic evidence of what was happening and when, it could also determine how active the tortoises were and when - down to the individual second.

Temperature Activity Correlation
One of the first things we witnessed was the temperature / activity correlation.
Knowing environmental temperature plays an important role to the activity rate in reptiles,
It was still very exciting to see the real data unfolding for the first time based on captive T.kleinmanni.

Below are the first 3 graphs to show, Winter, Summer, and Comparison activity...

Daily Routines

Also from this data are the clearly defined daily routines, Within the first hour the tortoises need to warm up with a morning basking, Over the next 2 hours the activity rate increases to peak around the 4th hour when its time to forage for food, this lasts for 2 - 3 hours until the activity rate declines steadily over the next 3 hours to night time and retiring to the hides by the 10th hour.

Not likely! with such a large topic, the idea of getting any kind of conclusion would be ambiguous at best.

Help! - If you have any Information, Images, Ideas - Regarding T.kleinmanni you would like to share with us please contact us,

T.kleinmanni are wonderful animals and a pleasure to work with, and we hope that they will be around for further generations to enjoy.


Notice Board: 

Offspring available to caring homes, please go here
To see some pictures please visit the
Tortoise Gallery


The Tortoise Diary - v1.8
Keep track of your tortoise(s)! - [here]

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  • more ...

  Taking notes, a must for all tortoise keepers....

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   ADDED - [here]  - La tortuga mediterránea, Searching for the Herman's tortoise

    ADDED - [here]  - Kleinmanni Project, Accounts and Observations.

    ADDED - [here]  - Credits, To those who have helped... thank you.

UPDATED - [here]  - Tortoise Keepers Gallery, Pictures of your tortoises.

    ADDED - [here]  - Tortoise Puzzle, Bored ? Time for some fun.

    ADDED - [here]  - Weather Conditions, Temperatures, Humidity, Rainfall ...   

UPDATED - [here]  - Tortoise Diet, balanced feeding

UPDATED - [here]  - Hatchling Growth Rate, over a 4 year period

    ADDED - [here]  - The Pet Tortoise House, do you require a set-up?

    ADDED - [here]  - Tortoise Photo Gallery

    ADDED - [here] 
- Frequently Asked Questions... its a start!

    ADDED - [here]  - Story of "lonesome George" - G.elephantopus abingdoni

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