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Animals

Kidadl Team

SEPTEMBER 02, 2021

Pond Turtle: 17 Facts You Won't Believe!

Pond turtle facts include information like they are an ectothermic species that likes basking in warm temperatures.

Pond turtles are freshwater species originally from the western coast of Mexico and the western side of the United States (Oregon and Washington area). They are also called swamp turtles. There are mainly two kinds of pond turtles, based on their region, Pacific pond turtles and European pond turtles. In spite of their genetic isolation, the two species of northwestern pond turtles and the Pacific pond turtles appear to have comparable characteristics and are subject to the same hazards. In California and Washington state, they were popularly sold in the food market. It has a combined genus of Emys and Actinemys. Pond turtles can stay out of water for more than 200 days. Terrestrial, as well as aquatic habitats, are important to them.

They have a yellowish belly and black spots on their head and a wide and smooth shell. The female turtles have small heads and flat bellies. The lower part of their shell is yellow or black. They migrate away from their aquatic habitat in winter but evidently come back to the previous place after winter. Like other turtles, they cannot swallow air so they consume food underwater.

Also, read interesting facts about box turtles and softshell turtles.  

Pond Turtle Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a pond turtle?

The pond turtle is a freshwater turtle belonging to the family of Emydidae. They are of two types mainly, western pond turtle and Pacific pond turtle.

What class of animal does a pond turtle belong to?

This kind of turtle belongs to the class Reptilia. They can live both on land and in water.

How many pond turtles are there in the world?

The exact population is unknown, although according to the IUCN they are considered to be vulnerable. Hence studies say that there is a total of 10,000 living western pond turtles. The normal life cycle of the northern western pond turtle and the Pacific pond turtle is disrupted by dam construction along the western coastal region, which disrupts river flows and drains natural wetlands for urban and agricultural development It is feared that populations of both species may be decimated by diseases such as ulcerative shell disease and upper respiratory illness, which are spread by invasive species such as red-eared sliders, bullfrogs, and largemouth bass, which compete for resources and feed on turtles.

Where does a pond turtle live?

The pond turtles range from Baja California, Mexico to Puget Sound, Washington state, and San Francisco to central California. They are mostly found in wetlands and also on the west coast of Oregon and California, and also in British Columbia.

What is a pond turtle's habitat?

Both the western pond turtles and Pacific pond turtles are mainly found in permanent and unsteady waters of rivers, creeks, small lakes, irrigation ditches, and reservoirs. Terrestrial habitats, like areas with low vegetation, are equally important to the western pond turtles as aquatic habitats. The western pond turtles bask on land and on the side of water clusters. Sometimes the male can be found on the land for a period of 10 months in a year whereas females can be found throughout the whole year due to nesting and overwintering (a form of hibernation).

Who do pond turtles live with?

Western pond turtle habitat is preferably ponds and shallow water bodies. The California pond turtle lives in the wild in aquatic as well terrestrial habitats. They can also be found in zoos and can also live with humans as pets.

How long does a pond turtle live?

Western pond turtles can live up to 50 years. The populations of the common pond turtle are threatened by both its predators and humans.

How do they reproduce?

A female can lay up to two to five eggs at a time. The western pond turtle eggs are covered with cement which protects them from predators. During the summer they deposit eggs in the water and during the winter, they lay them on land. The incubation of the eggs should be within a suitable temperature range to grow up their population.

What is their conservation status?

The pond turtle is a nocturnal animal and does not have any natural predators.  Since they lay their eggs in water, the best way to protect them is to keep the water clean and clean fish or other animals from entering the water. According to the IUCN, they are an endangered species and so their populations are considered to be Vulnerable, and therefore their populations need to be taken care of. Chemical pollutants left over from mining and agriculture pose a particular threat to these western pond turtles and their habitat, whose wide diet and lengthy lifespan make it easy for them to accumulate huge quantities of toxins over time. The authorities believe that pond turtles can be qualified for protection.

Pond Turtle Fun Facts

What do pond turtles look like?

Pond turtles have an amazing shell on their back.

The color of the upper shell is dark brown or dull olive, with slightly darker reticulations. The plastron of this freshwater turtle is yellow in color (not in stripes unlike painted turtle) and sometimes present with dark blotches in the center of the scutes and they have a hard shell. The length is between 6-8 in (15-20 cm) and weighs in the range of 1-2.4 lb (0.45-1.1 kg). There is a black pond turtle and a spotted pond turtle as well. The western pond turtles possess sexual dimorphism, and interestingly the males have light or pale yellow throats. Their head and legs have dark shades and may have spots and they have webbed feet. The female turtle has a flatter shell and body and a dome-shaped belly. The head and legs of the females are also larger and also have more length than the males.

How cute are they?

The western pond turtles are not large animals, unlike the painted turtles, although their appearance may not attract people their adorable size and movement will definitely seek one's attention. They are not very colorful so altogether they cannot be considered cute creatures but they are not so wild in nature. Their body color is yellow with blotches on top of their heads.

How do they communicate?

Turtles are not really good with actual conversation or speaking. Western pond turtle males make high-pitched sounds while mating. Moreover, they mostly communicate through touch or sight within their habitat.

How big is a pond turtle?

Pond turtles can have a length of 6-8 in (15-20 cm). Females are always bigger than males. Pond turtles are as big as box turtles and map turtles.

How fast can a pond turtle move?

Turtles are known to be among the slowest animals, the western pond turtles are no exception. They move at an average speed of 3-5 mph (5-8 kph) and can swim at an average speed of 10-12 mph (16-19 kph). They become slower when they carry their hatchlings.

How much does a pond turtle weigh?

The pond turtle weighs in the range of 1-2.4 lb ( 0.448-1.1 kg). They are light, small animals that can walk as well as swim. The newborn hatchlings are 0.011-0.025 oz (0.3-0.7 g). They are lighter compared to other turtles.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no separate names of the male and female species of the western pond turtles. However, they are distinguishable. Male turtles have flat and broader shells and think tails as compared to females. When the turtles are young, it can be difficult to tell their gender, but as they reach sexual maturity when their shells are around 4 in (10 cm) long, certain traits begin to show.

What would you call a baby pond turtle?

The western pond turtle's babies are called hatchlings or baby turtles.

What do they eat?

The western pond turtles have the diet of an omnivore, and mostly they feed on insects, crayfish, and other aquatic invertebrates. Western pond turtle food also includes pool frogs and tadpoles on rare occasions, and carrion when it is available. The plant food part includes filamentous algae lily, fish, lily pads, tule, and cattail roots. The babies are initially carnivores which eat insects and carrions, with age they start to eat plants as well.

Are they dangerous?

They are not dangerous or wild in nature and can also live with humans. As opposed to being dangerous, they are in danger. They are socially encouraging but become aggressive while feeding or if there is any threat nearby. Any kind of threat can make them wild.

Would they make a good pet?

They will make a decent pet and will need little maintenance to grow them up. Although they are not suitable pets when kids are around, they can be put in an outdoor turtle pond and have to be very attentive about western pond turtle care. One must keep the water temperature within the limit and also should ensure that they can have their proper diets like fish or algae. One can opt-in for a painted turtle also.

Did you know...

For protecting the pond turtles from getting extinct the petition was made to the U.S. Fish and wildlife service in 2012.

According to recent researches, they may qualify as a species that should be protected as they are listed as endangered.

Various species of slider turtles prefer ponds as their habitat.

Types of pond turtle

There are various types of pond turtles present such as the Western pond turtle, European pond turtle, Chinese pond turtle, Japanese pond turtle, and the Vietnamese pond turtle.

Do pond turtles bite?

Usually, they are friendly and harmless creatures but they can bite you if they sense a threat from your presence. Wild turtles, as well as pet turtles, usually bite in defense. Turtles don't have teeth but their bite is really hard and has to be treated medically.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our green sea turtle fun facts for kids and Florida softshell turtle facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our free printable pond turtle coloring pages.

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