European Pond Terrapins

1. What are European Pond Terrapins?
 
The strong and gorgeous turtles called ‘European pond terrapins’ Emys orbicularis (Linnaeus, 1758), are found in central and southern Europe, (from France and the Iberian Peninsula in the west and Germany to Netherlands in the north), North Africa and West Asia and some places of Australia. It prefers to live in slow-flowing or still water. Presently there are 13 sub-species with different color, size and markings seen at different geographical locations.
 
2. How much do they grow?
 
They are medium size terrapins and may grow up to 12 to 38 cm in length.
 
3. How long do they survive?
 
In the wild they survive up to or more than a century, but in captivity it may reduce to 30 years.
 
4. Can they be kept as pets? If so, how to take care of them?
 
As pets, European Pond Terrapins are popular nowadays. But a lot of care should be taken so that they live long and remain healthy.
 
The size of the vivarium, in which a pair of Emys can be kept, should be 150cm x 60cm x 50cm. A floating piece of wood is essentially needed to provide the basking spot. It is advisable to keep a dry sandy quarter in case you have a female Emys. Filter and clean the water regularly to avoid unpleasant odor and bacterial infection. Since they are hypothermic reptiles, adequate illumination along with UV radiation and maintenance of proper temperature is necessary too. Always consult a veterinary doctor.
 
5. What is their conservation status?
 
According to IUCN 2.3 [1], European pond terrapins are ‘Near Threatened’. To save them from extinction, breeding programs in captivity followed by liberation in the natural environment are taken up by different organizations.
 
6. How to identify a European Pond Terrapin?
 
The plastron surface of the European terrapin is brown with a green tinge and decorated with irregular yellow spots. A characteristic yellow circle can be seen around the eyes.
 
7. What do they eat?
 
Like other reptiles, European pond terrapins are also carnivores and like to savor meat, fish, insects, worms, mollusks etc. But sometimes they feed on vegetations to avoid starvation. The pet one can be given additional doses of vitamins and minerals to get rid of various deficiency diseases.
 
8. Do the European pond terrapins hibernate?
 
Yes they do and embed themselves in the underwater mud for up to seven months every year during cold season.