Fun European Pond Turtle Facts For Kids

Akinwalere Olaleye
Nov 17, 2022 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
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Let us enjoy some amazing European pond turtle facts!

Lookout in the ponds and lakes, because you can spot the European pond turtle! The Emys orbicularis is a freshwater turtle belonging to the family Emydidae. This turtle has a very long lifespan, extending up to 60 years sometimes!

This tortoise has many names, some of them being European pond tortoise and European pond terrapin. This turtle is completely endemic to the regions of the Western Palaearctic.

You can easily identify this turtle in its natural habitat as it has got multiple yellow speckles throughout its skin and shell! These aquatic creatures are easily hunted by predators such as alligators, coyotes, foxes, and many more animals.

Be careful if you walk along the beaches, as the females lay their eggs in the sand. The gender of European pond turtle or European pond tortoise is completely temperature-dependent!

Excited about knowing this aquatic species? You can read more about other turtles from our pages on snapping turtle facts and the bog turtle facts.

European Pond Turtle Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a European pond turtle?

The European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis) is a type of turtle.

What class of animal does a European pond turtle belong to?

The European pond turtle belongs to the class Reptilia.

How many European pond turtles are there in the world?

Unfortunately, there is no exact information on the total population of the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis).

Where does a European pond turtle live?

This turtle is mainly found in southern as well as Central Europe, northwestern areas of Africa, Central Asia, and even the Middle East.

What is a European pond turtle's habitat?

The European pond turtle's habitat can be described as natural, woody wetlands. They feed in upland environments. It does not stay under the surface of the water predominantly, in fact, it travels on the surface of the land for a good distance. They are found mainly in a freshwater habitat. They also enjoy basking in the sun!

Who do European pond turtles live with?

The European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis) lives with other turtles of its kind in small groups.

How long does a European pond turtle live?

It has been observed that the usual lifespan of the Emys orbicularis is of about 40-60 years. However, there have been rare instances where this species has lived up to 100 fruitful years! Imagine surviving for an entire century, aye!

How do they reproduce?

The eggs of these freshwater turtles are not laid in water but on land. However, they are closely situated near the water, probably within 490 ft (149.3 m) from the water body.

The hunt for the ideal nest is not easy, and the adult female takes several hours to find a suitable nesting area, usually near sandy areas. Upon hitting the jackpot, the females then build their nests, lay eggs, and then cover the nest, again taking a good amount of time.

Usually, these nests are retained throughout the next breeding cycles. However, they change their nesting grounds if they notice changes in the environment. The new nest might be just closeby, or might be in another abandoned nesting site.

You might be wondering why the ecological conditions are crucial for these turtles, right? Well, the changes in the surrounding environment affect the survival of these eggs and even has an impact on the gender of the turtles.

It also affects the gender ratio of these turtles.

If the area is well shaded with vegetation, or if the female does not change her location of nesting, chances are she will produce more male hatchlings. This happens because the gender of the turtles depends completely on the temperature, and such imbalances might lead to more males or more females being born, thus disturbing the gender ratio.

The mating of the male and the female turtles takes place in sandy areas. These turtles mature at the age of five or six years.

After mating, the male turtle does not carry on any parental duties and leaves the female. The female then lays her eggs, usually about 8-10 in number.

Each of these eggs has a hard shell and is white and elongated. The stiff tail of the female is used to dig a hole in the ground to lay the eggs.

After they are laid, the female covers them up with the soil removed and leaves the eggs. About three to three and a half months of incubation takes place, after which the little turtles hatch open from their eggs.

Sometimes, the embryos might hibernate within the protection of the egg and would not hatch open until the spring season. Many clutches may be produced in a year.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the European pond terrapin is Near Threatened according to the IUCN.

European Pond Turtle Fun Facts

What do European pond turtles look like?

The European pond turtle's diet includes fishes, mollusks, insects, and small amphibians too.

The European pond turtle or European pond terrapin is actually just medium in size. The carapace length of this turtle species is as long as 5-15 in (12-38 cm) long. Upon seeing the carapace, you can notice its dark brown or black hue, with a slight green mix.

Their legs and head are filled with multiple yellow spots. The plastron is also in shades of yellow. The growth of this species is not constant throughout.

Their bodily growth depends mainly on the temperature of the areas they settle in, as well as, the thermal ecological conditions. The adult male turtles are found to be a little smaller when compared to the size of the adult female.

They have either brown, white, red, or yellow irises. The skin on their heads is smooth and their limbs are webbed. They have a total of 12 pairs of marginal broad shields.

How cute are they?

They are pretty cute, for turtles!

How do they communicate?

We are not aware of how exactly the European land turtles communicate. However, here is some information on how general communication between all turtles takes place.

In the breeding season, the turtles make small sounds. These may be groans, chirps, or even whistles. They might also make head movements to convey their message.

Sometimes, the female would blink many times to attract her male mate during the breeding months. The male turtles may squirt a good amount of water on their female’s face to convey their interest in mating. If the turtles resort to biting, they may want to be left alone for a while.

If the turtles retract back into their hard shells, they may be in a state of fear. You might also hear them hissing in certain situations. This might happen when they are stressed, or aggressive.

How big is a European pond turtle?

The European pond turtle size depends on their carapaces. The carapace length of this semi-aquatic animal is as long as 5-15 in (12-38 cm) long.

This makes their bodies almost three times the size of a Syrian hamster.

How fast can a European pond turtle move?

We are not aware of the speed at which the European pond turtle (Emys Orbicularis) can move.

How much does a European pond turtle weigh?

They do not weigh much. The European pond turtle weight is just about 2.2 lb (1 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the male and female European pond turtles.

What would you call a baby European pond turtle?

In general, baby turtles are called hatchlings.

What do they eat?

These freshwater turtles are omnivorous creatures, though they are primarily meat-eaters. They munch down on small aquatic creatures in their earlier days, and as they grow, their diet begins to include larger animals as well.

Insects, frogs, snails, mollusks, worms, and different kinds of fishes and arthropods are part of their diet. These reptiles are known to bite down on the side of the head, and then tear down their prey into tiny bits with the help of their sharp claws.

Sometimes, they might even survive feeding on fruits and other plant matter. However, the transition to plant matter in their diet happens as they grow older.

Are they poisonous?

Nope, this species is not poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

Absolutely! This turtle species is one of the most popular choices among animals to be kept as pets. Having a long lifespan, the European pond turtle or European pond tortoise will surely be your companions for a long time.

However, before you make a decision for a European pond turtle pet, make sure you are aware of the protection laws and rules, and regulations pertaining to this species. Keeping them as pets has now been restricted. Owning these wild animals is not allowed. Only certain registered bred animals of this species can be owned privately.

Did you know...

It is usually the smaller hatchlings and eggs which are attacked by dangerous predators for food. Some known predators include bears, crabs, alligators, raccoons, foxes, herons, cats, rats, gulls, crocodiles, and many more. The adult European pond turtles are predated by large birds, coyotes, wild dogs, and are even poached by humans.

The yellow-speckled plastron of these turtles have hinges, which permit them to pull their bodies within the shell and shut off the openings of the shell, thus saving themselves.

Do European pond turtles hibernate?

The European pond turtles face diverse environmental conditions. This needs them to adapt quickly according to the changes in the climate. Hence, the populations in the north opt for hibernating in the cool, winter months.

When encountering the hottest of all habitats, the European pond turtle or European pond tortoise goes into aestivation. Even the little embryos may delay hatching from their eggs and would hibernate over the winter season and hatch open only in the spring. For hibernation, they bury themselves in the sand or mud.

What is the biggest turtle?

The Dermochelys coriacea, also known as the leatherback sea turtle, or lute turtle, or even the leathery turtle, is the largest living turtle in the world. This is also the heaviest one of all the non-crocodilian reptiles known.

Its carapace is made of oily flesh and has leathery skin. This species can have a total body length of about 6-7.2 ft (1.8-2.2 m).

This makes their length equal to almost four times the body length of the Siberian husky.

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 hawksbill sea turtle facts and green sea turtle facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable European pond turtle coloring pages.

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

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Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

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Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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