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Common Name: Western Pond Turtle

Scientific Name: Actinemys marmorata


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Testudines

Family: Emydidae

Genus: Actinemys

Species: A. marmorata

My animal is a Western Pond Turtle. In this picture it looks a lot like it may be slimy, wet and dark with a kind if yellowish color, it has long claws. Mine is a boy. I named my turtle Kevin. It is about 13 years old now. I know because I count the squares it has on his back. It is limited to the west coast of the United States of America and Mexico, ranging from western Washington State to northern Baja California. At that time, only about 100-150 of the turtles, which measure about 8-inches long as adults and can live nearly four decades or so, were left in just a few spots in Washington (other subspecies live in Oregon and California, but are having similar problems).


Western Pond Turtles are omnivorous and most of their animal diet includes insects, crayfish and other aquatic invertebrates. Fishes, tadpoles, and fogs are eaten occasionally, and carrion is eaten when available. Plant foods include filamentous algae, lily pods, Tule and cattail roots. When feeding, pond turtles seek out food by sight or smell. Since they are unable to swallow food in the air, they must ingest their prey in the water.


Females produce 5-13 eggs per clutch. They deposit eggs either once or twice a year. They may travel some distance from water for egg-laying, moving as much as 0.8 km (1/2 miles) away from and up to 90 m (300 ft) above the nearest source of water, but most nests are with 90 m (300 ft) of water. The female usually leaves the water in the evening and may wander far before selecting a nest site, often in an open area of sand or hardpan that is facing southwards. The nest is flask-shaped with an opening of about 5 cm (2 in). Females spend considerable time covering up the nest with soil and adjacent low vegetation, making it difficult for a person to find unless it has been disturbed by a predator. Some hatchings overwater in the nest, and this phenomenon seems more prevalent in northern areas. Possibly, winter rains may be necessary to loosen the hardpan soil where some nests are deposited. It may be that the nest is the safest place for hatchlings to shelter while they await the return of warm weather. Whether it is hatchlings or eggs that overwinter, young first appear in the spring follow the year of egg deposition. Individuals grow slowly in the wild, and age of their first reproduction may be 10 to 12 years in the northern part of the range. Adult turtles may survive more than 30 years in the wild.


The Western Pond Turtle occurs in both permanent and intermittent waters, including marshes, streams, rivers, ponds and lakes. They favor habitats with large amounts of emergent logs or boulders, where they aggregate behavior toward one another while sunning. They also bask on top of aquatic vegetation or position themselves just below the surface where water temperatures are elevated. Western Pond Turtles will rapidly dive off basking sites when approached by a human, even at distances of over 50 m. Consequently, this species is often overlooked in the wild.


Author: Deniece N

Published: 2/2009


Source: "pond turtle." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 13 Feb. 2009 Photo Credit: USGS,


Photo by: Chris Brown

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