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European pond turtle

Scientific Name: Emys orbicularis

The European pond turtle has 14 subspecies that range from olive-brown to black with spotted or streaked patterning on the shell. They have yellow speckling 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, but once they reach adulthood turtles could live between 40-60 years, however there are records of some individuals living to be over 100 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.

Key Facts:

  • Conservation Status: Near Threatened
  • Distribution: Central Asia, Europe, Northern Africa, West Asia
  • Habitat: Wetlands
  • Diet: Animals, Aquatic Insects, Fish, Invertebrates
  • Weight: Variable
  • No. of young: 9 – 10
  • Life Span: 40 – 60 years (1)

* Haven’t been able to find the source


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