How long do they live? If you’ve been keeping up with the tortoises and turtles, then you know where this is going (hint: no one really knows). They can live over 100 years and one was reported to live until 120 years old in captivity [1], but habitat destruction, fragmentation, and disease severely decrease that number for most of these turtles.

Where are they found at? The European pond turtle is semi-aquatic and can be found in freshwater through Europe, West Asia, North Africa, and Sweden. See Figure 1. In the more northern regions where it gets very cold, they actually hibernate!

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Figure 1. Some of the places that you can find the European pond tortoise.

What do they eat? They dine on meat, such as: fish, frogs, and tadpoles [2]. But they’ll munch on vegetation every now and then.

What do they look like? Their colors range by habitat, but many are an olive color, brown, or black. See Figures 2, 3, and 4. Many have yellow speckles on their shell and body. Male eye color also comes in a variety of colors including red, yellow, and white. Female eye color is generally yellow and white [3].

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Figure 2. European pond turtle.
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Figure 3. Those spots!
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Figure 4. So many spots.

How do scientists know how old they are? A hatching date is necessary since growth rings are not all that reliable with tortoises and turtles.

How do they reproduce? Sexual reproduction occurs between a male and female and fertilization is internal. A female will deposit her eggs into the soil near water. Males and females reach sexual maturity between 5 and 7 years of age [3]. I could not track down any information on reproductive senescence.

So what are we lacking? As usual, a whole lot. For starters, when do they stop reproducing? No information is available about the genome of this species on NCBI, so that’s another big question mark. Bits and pieces of their mitochondrial genome is available on NCBI.

Conservation status: Lower risk, near threatened, but needs to be updated [4]. Habitat destruction is the main reason for population decline, as nesting sites are frequently destroyed.

Please contact me if you any information about how these adorable creatures avoid aging. Also, any information about their genome would be greatly appreciated.

 

  1. Castanet, J. “Age estimation and longevity in reptiles.” Gerontology 40.2-4 (1994): 174-192.
  2. Fritz Uwe; Peter Havaš (2007). “Checklist of Chelonians of the World”. Vertebrate Zoology 57 (2): 181–184. ISSN 18640-5755. Archived from the original on 2010-12-17. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
  3. Encyclopedia of life. European Pond Turtle. http://eol.org/pages/1056912/details. Accessed 9/17/2016.
  4. IUCN Red List. European Pond Turtle. Accessed 9/17/2016.