Animals / Reptiles

The European Pond Turtle

Синонимы и названия на других языках

European pond terrapin

Europäische Sumpfschildkröte (German)


Order: testudines

Family: emydidae

Subfamily: emydinae

Genus: emys

Species: emys orbicularis.

There are several subspecies:

Emys (orbicularis) trinacris – native to Sicily

Emys orbicularis orbicularis – native to Russia (southern regions) and Ukraine

Emys rbicularis eiselti (Eiselt's Pond Turtle)

Emys orbicularis fritzjuergenobsti (Obst's Pond Turtle)

Emys orbicularis galloitalica (Italian Pond Turtle)

Emys orbicularis hellenica (Western Turkey Pond Turtle)

Emys orbicularis ingauna

Emys orbicularis occidentalis (North African Pond Turtle)

Emys orbicularis persica (Eastern Pond Turtle)


The European pond turtle is a widely spread species which is found in Europe, Asia and Africa.  It dwells in the water: rivers, streams, ponds, lakes.

The European pond turtle prefers water entities with slow course, oozy bottom and extensive vegetation.

It is also found in the uplands up to 1000 m above the sea level.  

Внешний вид

An adult European pond turtle in the wild can grow 35 cm long and weigh up to 1.5 kg. But in captivity they seldom reach this size and normally are about 25-30 cm.

This turtle has smooth oval black or green-yellow carapace with a lot of yellow or white spots. It has a large black head with white or yellow speckling. The feet are dark, also with yellow or white spots. The subspecies Еmys (orbicularis) trinacris the carapace and the skin are yellow-green, and Еmys orbicularis orbicularis have almost black ones.

The tail is rather long, up to three quarters of the carapace size.

Males have reddish eyes, females have yellowish ones. 


The European pond turtle is a friendly and calm reptile.

It easily gets used to people and can be hand-fed.

A tamed turtle doesn’t hide its head when it is handled.

It is best to keep them alone, since they can be quite aggressive to their specimens and as a rule, it ends with fights and injuries.

It is not recommended to put the European pond turtle together with any fish: the turtle considers all fish to be food. 

Содержание и уход

The European pond turtle needs a tank starting from 200 litres, with a thick layer of water and with a possibility to come on the ground. The turtles spend a lot of time in the water and it gets soiled very quickly, so a powerful external filter is a must. The filter has to be cleaned every second month.

It is best to put some substrate on the bottom. Plants are not recommended, since turtles tend to eat real plants and destroy the artificial ones. It is a good idea to put the turtle in a bowl for feeding, it will help to keep the tank cleaner for longer time. You will have to change one third of the total amount of water weekly. A UV lamp is a must.  A heating lamp or a reflector has to be directed on the ground for the turtle to bask.

In summer the turtle can love in a pond.

The ambient temperature has to be around 23°C at night and 26°C at daytime.

The air humidity has to be about 60%.

The European pond turtle needs about 12 hours of light per day with fluorescent lamps and reflectors.

The ideal water temperature is about  24°C, so you will need a durable water heater. 


An adult European pond turtle is normally fed once every second or third day with the animal origin food. The best diet is live fish: goldfish or guppy. You can simply let them into the tank and watch your turtle hunting. It is best to avoid wild-caught fish because it can infect your reptile with tapeworms. Also you can feed the turtle with shrimps, mussels, squid and pieces of lean ox heart. Vitamins and mineral supplements have to be added to the food.

Turtles are prone to overeating, so control the amount of food you give to your pet. Young turtles have to be fed daily. 


The European pond turtle is easy to keep, it is suitable for beginners.

They are tamed easily and are fun to watch.

This species can get used to people and be hand-fed.

They cannot be kept together with fish.

The European pond turtle can get aggressive during the feeding.

It requires a large tank.

They can even live in salty water for a while. 


Generally it is a very healthy species, they rarely get ill.

Wild-caught turtles can have tapeworms. In order to confirm this you have to make a test of their feces and if this is the case, a vet will recommend a suitable antihelmintic.  

These turtles are prone to obesity since they often overeat. In this case you should review its menu. 


The European pond turtle gets sexually mature at the age from 5 to 9 years old. They mate from March to October. They don’t breed in captivity since they have to go ashore to lay eggs. They dig a hole in the ground and lay 9-13 white eggs. After 60-90 days hatchlings come out. They are about 24-25 mm long and weigh only 5 gr. They have a big yolk sac on their stomachs.  The hatchlings’ carapace is usually dark brown with yellow lines. They dig small tunnels near their nest and spend the winter there. In spring young turtles get out and start independent life. The temperature during the incubation period affects sex: if it is 27 degrees and lower, only males are “born”; if the temperature is 30 degrees and above, only females come out. Young turtles need water about 5 cm deep. They eat daphnia and insects’ larvae. 

It is impossible to create these conditions in captivity.

The semen can stay in the genital tract of the female up to 1 year, so sometimes a wild-caught turtle lays eggs after a while.

Average life span with proper care is about 30 years and longer. There have been reports about specimens living up to 100 years.


Authentication required

You must log in to post a comment.

Log in
There are no comments yet.