The European pond turtle has 13 subspecies that range from olive-brown to black with spotted or streaked patterning on the shell. They have yellow spots and lines around their heads and front legs with variable coloured eyes. They also have long tails and webbed feet, which are adaptations for swimming.
These turtles frequently enjoy sunbathing on branches that stick out of the water, but are very predator aware and will quickly escape back into the water at minor disturbances. In northern regions they hibernate during the winter, in southern regions they aestivate during the hottest weather.
Males will make a short piping sound to attract a female and will then chase after her. The entire courtship and mating usually takes place underwater. Eggs will be buried on land and take about three months to hatch. Mortality in young turtles is high and most turtles only live for around 15 years, despite the fact that some captive individuals have reached 120 years old.
The European pond turtle will actively stalk prey and will eat anything from insects, crabs and snails to frogs, salamanders and fish.
Although the European pond turtle is classed as Near Threatened it has a widespread distribution. They are threatened from pollution and habitat loss. They are also threatened by invasive species such as red-eared sliders.