Western Pond Turtle

The Western Pond Turtle has marbling along the body and a dark shell. The shell is wide and flat, perfect for swimming. Males have lighter markings on the chin, while females have darker markings.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Actinemys marmorata
CLASSIFICATION
Reptile
LIFE SPAN
40-70 Years
SIZE
4-8 ” | 1.5-2 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • Priority Species
  • Unprotected
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Vulnerable
GAME STATUS
Non-Game
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

The Western Pond Turtle is found in permanent and temporary waters of rivers, creeks, small lakes and ponds, marshes, irrigation ditches, and reservoirs. In Nevada they are confined to the Truckee and Carson Rivers.

  • Developed Landscapes
  • Lakes and reservoirs
  • Rivers and streams

Threats

  • Disease
  • Habitat Degradation
  • Habitat Loss
  • Invasive Species

Natural History

This turtle often uses basking sites, such as logs and rocks, and commonly basks on land. When disturbed, the Western Pond turtle seeks cover underwater. It nests on sandy banks near water, in fields, or sunny spots up to a few hundred meters from water.
The Western Pond Turtle species is a scavenger and opportunistic predator with a preference for live prey. Their diet often includes adult and larval insects, worms, crustaceans, carrion, and algae. They are most active when water temperatures are above 60*F. By switching to absorbing oxygen through their skin, pond turtles can hibernate underwater, often in the muddy bottom of a pool.
Their hard shells protect these turtles from potential predators as an adult, however young Western Pond Turtles have more flexible shells. Predators of these turtles include raccoons, coyotes, bears, river otters, bullfrogs, snakes, and sometimes fish.

Fun Facts

Some Western Pond Turtles slow down their metabolic processes and hibernate underwater during several months in the Winter. They survive so much time underwater by using cloacal respiration - pumping water through the cloaca through pouches that function similar to gills - extracting oxygen from the water and releasing carbon dioxide.