Facts about pond turtles

Written by tina tolkacevic
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Facts about pond turtles
Pond turtles are interesting aquatic animals. (Turtles image by Shaelene Thompson from Fotolia.com)

All pond turtles can survive in freshwater, however some are better suited for certain climates. Due to the size of turtles and their tendency to hide in aquatic vegetation, it can be difficult to find pond turtles in the wild. However, many local pet stores carry pond turtles for sale. Turtles make a great addition to an artificial pond if the conditions are right.

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Appearance

Pond turtles come in many different shapes, colours and sizes. Some are as small as three inches, while others can grow as long as 16 inches. Most commonly, the shells of pond turtles are covered with spots and are a dark colour. However, many colours, such as reds and yellows, can appear on the shells in small amounts.

Appetite

Some turtles, such as the red-bellied turtle and other cooters, will eat plants. While other pond turtles, such as the stinkpot, European pond turtles, spotted turtles, map turtles and sawbacks, eat snails, mussels, insects and crayfish. Some turtles, such as the western (or Pacific) pond turtle, will each both animals and plant foods, such as algae.

Behaviour

Some turtles are known to bite, such as the stinkpot, a musk turtle. This turtle oozes a stinky yellow fluid when it feels threatened. Also, this pond turtle rarely leaves the water. Cooters and spotted turtles are known to have a pleasant, friendly demeanour. Other pond turtles such as map turtles and sawbacks are known to be shy.

Illness, Injury and Death

Depending on where you live, the following animals are predators of pond turtles: raccoons, opossums, muskrats, alligators, bullfrogs, large fish, herons, osprey, skunks, snakes, hawks, owls, eagles, snapping turtles and other large predators. Turtles will hide from these predators in vegetation and other pond plants.

Furthermore, pond turtles can become ill due to poor water quality. This happens mostly in artificial ponds where the water is not changed frequently or is not filtered. Reasons for the poor quality are a result of turtle waste and uneaten food. Also, some species of pond turtles are threatened by extinction.

Hibernation

Pond turtles that live in a location with low temperatures during the winter months will need a period of hibernation. During this time, they don't eat and they spend their time sleeping. They will bury themselves in soil in the deepest part of the pond. They can also bury in planted pots if there is enough room among the roots.

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