European Pond Turtle Care Sheet


The European Pond Turtle, known by its Latin name Emys orbicularis, inhabits various parts of Europe, for example Spain, France, Germany and Turkey. They usually grow to around 25 cm, however the range in size is anything from 12 cm to 38 cm. The European pond turtle has varied aesthetics depending on the geographic location in which it is situated. For example turtles living in the south of Europe will be generally smaller and lighter in colour. This is the opposite for those in the north. These turtles have round carapaces that has an acute amount of flaring on the marginal scutes. Their shell is often smooth with a glistening shine to it when wet. The head of the turtles are large and acutely pointed in most cases. In terms of colouration, the turtles exude a bright gold speckle which is found on the darker coloured carapace as well as the skin. Some specimens can be completely black with few markings. 

marsh turtle, emys orbicularis, turtle

European pond turtle basking on a log.


These turtles enjoy a varied diet consisting of worms, insects, invertebrates, fish and many types of meat. It is important to gut-load the feeder insects with fruit, vegetables and dandelions as the nutrients from the food will go straight into the turtles. Dusting the feeder insects or meat is also an important step to ensure your turtle maintains healthy levels of vitamins and calcium. We encourage people to establish natural colonies of insects and invertebrates into the enclosure which will ensure your turtles can get an unlimited supply of a varied diet, at no extra cost. Before the turtles goes into hibernation, it is advised to feed it wax worms or any other type of high-fat food to help cope with the cooler temperatures in winter.


European pond turtles will really appreciate a vivarium with plenty of space to explore, dig, swim and bask. Therefore, we recommend a vivarium of size 3m x 3m for a pair or small group. The enclosure should also have 50-60cm of soil for the turtle to burrow down and brumate as well as adequate space for a pond, which should have a layer of peat to allow for bumation to occur. A variety of plant species, logs and stones will help create a more natural, realistic environment for the turtle to enjoy. Remember, the larger the enclosure, the happier the animal, so don’t hesitate to make a larger enclosure. At Celtic Reptile & Amphibian we house all of our animals outdoors in greenhouse enclosures or outdoor vivaria, as this allows vital exposure to the sun and thus, the absorption of UVB light. Pond turtles are particularly fond of rocky embankments, horizontal branches and pond weeds, so it is not a bad idea to add these things into your enclosure. No external heating supply or UVB bulb is required when outdoors in the UK or Europe, however brumation should be artificial (such as within a container of water) for turtles kept in the north. In terms of temperature and humidity, this turtle is rather hardy and so can withstand temperatures as low as 10 C and as high as 40 C , with a happy medium of around 25 C. This species loves to bask and so basking temperatures may need to be higher than the rest of the enclosure, however you can achieve this by ensuring your enclosure is on the south facing wall with no sunlight obstruction.

sunrise, pond, hills

Habitat of the European pond turtle: ponds and rivers of southern France.



Mating occurs within the spring months. The female will lay between 5-20 eggs in May or June. The eggs should be collected carefully and artificially incubated.