European pond turtle

Emys orbicularis

Three terrapins lie, leaning a little on each other, in a row on a tree stump in the pond. IUCN Red List endangerment category: Near threatened
  • Family
    New World pond turtles (Emydidae)
  • Weight
    400 – 700 g
  • Habitat
    Fresh and brackish waters

Cold-blooded omnivore

European pond turtles feed primarily on animal matter such as aquatic insects, small fi sh, tadpoles and amphibians. Their diet also includes aquatic plants. They are coldblooded animals and therefore unable to regulate their body temperature. Instead, they spend most of the day in the sun to warm up.

The picture shows an european pond turtle. It has raised its head and looks with one eye directly into the camera.

Motionless in winter

As the winter sets in, and food becomes scarce, European pond turtles enter into a state of hibernation. They bury themselves in the mud at the bottom of a pond where they remain without eating by lowering their breathing rate. If an embryo inside an egg is caught in a cold snap, it will only hatch when better weather conditions return. The temperature during the breeding season also has another important function: it determines the sex of the hatchling.

The destruction of the European pond turtle’s habitat has pushed the species to near-extinction in Germany.


Distribution map terrapin