European pond turtle

European pond turtle

Emys orbicularis

Common name:

European pond turtle

Scientific name:

Emys orbicularis

Alternative common names:


The European pond turtle is a long-lived freshwater species of turtle. It selects terrestrial locations with open, high and sandy soil habitats for nesting. It searches for habitats in shallow, fertile areas with adequate food supplies and few predators.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Europe, West Asia and North Africa.

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 1b

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Eastern Cape.

How does it spread?

It is spread via pet trade.

Why is it a problem?

These turtles host several species of parasites, including Haemogregarina stepanova, vascular trematodes and many nematode species.

What does it look like?

Description: The European pond turtle is a medium-sized turtle that varies quite a bit across its distribution, ranging from 12-38cm in length. Its shell is brown with a hint of green and is spotted yellow. The male’s iris colour varies per region, ranging from red, brownish-yellow and yellow to pure white, while the eyes of females are generally yellow, occasionally white.

Habitat: It is found in a wide variety of freshwater habitats, including ponds, lakes, streams, rivers and drainage canals, some of which may dry up completely during the summer months.

Breeding: Mating is from March to May, depending on the latitude. The number of eggs ranges from 3-16, usually 9-10, and these are laid in May and June in small holes dug in the ground. The incubation period varies from 57-90 days, and young may emerge in autumn or stay in the nest until the following spring.

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