turtles for ponds

Have you ever taken the time to observe the various natural activities taking place near a pond? Many different species of animals can call a huge pond in someone’s backyard or even a little fish pond right off a home’s patio home. Examples include ducks, frogs, and fish. But the presence of a group of freshwater turtles makes no pond ecosystem complete.

In addition to being fascinating to watch, pond turtles also eat insects and other pests that commonly live in pond environments. Fortunately, there are many different varieties of pond turtles, so it’s simple to choose the ideal individuals to live in a backyard pond.

The pond turtles in this list, with the exception of one, all have webbed feet and spend the majority of their time submerged. While some reside in swamps or marshes, others inhabit rivers, lakes, and streams. Check out some facts regarding nine of the most well-known varieties of pond turtles.

Red-eared slider

Undoubtedly one of the most common turtles kept as pets is the red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans). Because of the red streaks on either side of its head, this turtle is often referred to as the “red-eared slider.”

This resilient chelonian is ideal for ponds since it can flourish in a variety of climates and temperatures. Other names for this pond slider include red-eared terrapin, slider turtle, water slider turtle, and even red-eared turtle.

This chelonian can live in almost any climate or ecology because to its adaptability. The species is the most invasive turtle due to its resilience.

Make sure you don’t release the red-eared slider into the wild if you opt to keep it in a pond outside of its native habitat.

The local ecosystem can suffer because of this. The red-eared slider’s natural geographic range extends from Colorado through Virginia and Florida.

For the majority of the year, the water temperature must be higher than 75 °F. Once the temperature drops below 50 °F, the red-eared slider will brumate.

The pond must be large enough so that just the top freezes and not the entire pond because they brumate at the bottom of ponds.

Maintaining an air hole open with a de-icer or floating heater will help with the circulation of dissolved gases between the pond and the air.

Northern Map Turtle

The pattern on a northern map turtle’s shell gave rise to its name. Its shell can be either light or dark green and has a map-like pattern of yellow lines on it.

Keep in mind that this turtle’s females are bigger than their male counterparts while attempting to identify them. A female’s shell measures 10.5 inches in length, whilst a male’s shell measures 6.5 inches. Out of all the map turtle species, the northern map turtle is the one that is most frequently sighted.

The northern map turtle’s range extends from Quebec in Canada through Alabama in the United States. In particular, rivers, large ponds, freshwater lakes, and streams make up their environment.

The majority of the day is spent in the water by these aquatic turtles. However, they do venture outside for a few hours to enjoy the warm sun and regulate their body temperatures. Crayfish, snails, and other tiny aquatic animals make up their food.

Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)

A large portion of the United States, Canada, and northern Mexico are home to the painted turtle. Although they are available for purchase in the UK, they should never be released into the wild since they will turn into an invasive species.

Painted turtles are a very simple species to care for and are also quite attractive with red accents on their shells and distinctive yellow patterns on their bodies (hence their name).

They like water temperatures that are as close to 70° F (21° C) as possible. They are the perfect size for any pond because they are a very little turtle, often measuring 5 to 7 inches in length.

Red-eared sliders (below) and painted turtles have a striking resemblance, however painted turtles lack the red ear markings and have an orange or red underside, whereas sliders have a yellow underbelly.

Even though they like to spend most of their time in the water, they will occasionally want to leave the pond, therefore there should be at least one simple access and departure point. This isn’t a problem if you reside in their natural habitat, but as was already noted, if you don’t, you’ll need to make sure they can’t go out into the wild.

Common Map Turtles

The map turtle is a very diversified species of pond turtle with shell decorations that frequently resemble maps. However, given the wide range of taxa, it is not surprising that their appearance might vary significantly.

Despite being native to the United States, map turtles are traded all over the world. Due to the fact that they require high-quality water to exist and develop, they are less of a nuisance than other varieties of freshwater turtles.

It is understandable that they are sensitive to other parts of their surroundings given that their preferred temperature range only extends to 72–80° Fahrenheit (22–27 C). They are vulnerable to bacterial infections and illnesses like shell rot if their high expectations are not properly satisfied.

In addition, they favor flowing water than stationary water. Map turtles are often found in slow-moving rivers and streams in the wild. For this reason, prospective pond owners who want to retain map turtles should install a pump, fountain, or waterfall to keep the water flowing.

A food that is primarily composed of plant stuff is another prerequisite for retaining juvenile map turtles. The map turtle’s primary food sources are water hyacinth, duckweed, frogbit, and water lettuce.

It’s crucial to remember that these floating plants are frequently seen as invasive. Therefore, before adding these plants to your pond, make sure you are in compliance with local regulations.

Except for the rare treat of kale, lettuce, and the like, adults prefer a mixture of worms, crayfish, insects, and other zooplankton.

Yellow-bellied Slider

Because it is a native of the Southeast of the United States, the yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta) must be kept in a pond with temperatures above 75 °F.

It is ideal to keep these turtles in ponds near areas with somewhat high temperatures. Geographically, the yellow-bellied slider may be found from Florida to southern Virginia.

The size of the specimens varies between the sexes. Males grow to be 5 to 9 inches long, but females grow to be 8 to 13 inches long. Yellow stripes may be seen on the carapace, limbs, and head of the T. s. scripta in addition to its yellow plastron.

The T. s. scripta consumes a variety of foods and is omnivorous. Feeder fish, water snails, krill, mealworms, bloodworms, earthworms, roaches, and even locusts are among the foods you may give them.

Additionally, you may give them prepared turtle diets. They also consume aquatic vegetation and even leafy vegetables like kale and romaine lettuce.

Generally speaking, yellow-bellied sliders do not brumate like red-eared sliders do (hibernate).

European Pond Terrapin

Another term for a freshwater turtle is a terrapin. The shell of the European Pond Terrapin is eight to twelve inches long. Its shell may be brown or olive in color with little yellow dots on it. The correct identification of these turtles can be aided by knowing that they have yellow and red eyes.

Numerous regions of Europe, as well as northern Africa and western Asia, are home to this turtle or terrapin. This turtle inhabits slow-moving rivers as well as habitats in lakes, ponds, and lakes. This turtle will ascend a rock or floating log throughout the day to soak up the sun. Frogs, small fish, and water plants make up this turtle’s diet.

Box Turtle (Terrapene)

Box turtles have four subspecies and can be found in different parts of the United States, Mexico, and Canada, depending on the species. As might be expected, the Asian box turtle is indigenous to the continent.

Depending on the specific species, they feature huge, domed shells that range in size from 4 to 8 inches and may be plain or heavily marked in yellow.

Despite their popularity, they are challenging to care for as pets since they are sensitive to stress, dislike being handled, require high humidity, are picky about their substrate (they like to burrow), and require temperate settings as they are more common in warmer climates.

Since they have a generalist diet and will eat anything, from insects to cactus to berries to gastropods like snails and slugs, this may be the only “simple” component of maintaining them as a pet.

Never steal a box turtle from the wild since they have a poor reproductive rate and all species are in trouble (as with any of the turtles in this article).

Box turtles in the wild cannot be taken captive in several states. Instead, always buy them from a reputable breeder or a shop that offers box turtles that have been lawfully captured and reared in captivity.

Although they can be purchased in some regions of Europe, be advised that neither box turtles from Asia nor those from other countries are known to be traded legally outside of the United States. You should report an Asian box turtle if you come across one while outside of Asia.

Make sure the turtle was obtained lawfully by the vendor before buying it to avoid harming wild box turtle populations or promoting the black market pet trade. There are several legitimate captive box turtle breeders in Europe.

Bog Turtles

The bog turtle, which resembles painted and spotted turtles in appearance, is the smallest in North America. Bog turtles reach adulthood with shells that are 4″ (10 cm) long and weigh, on average, 4 ounces. They often have a single orange patch on either side of their neck and dark brown skin and shell.

This omnivorous turtle mostly eats bugs and tiny invertebrates.

Bog turtles are nocturnal and solitary creatures that may be found in plenty anywhere between Vermont, Georgia, and Ohio. During the winter, they like spending their time hibernating and digging burrows in the mud.

Due to the destruction of their native environment, bog turtles are now threatened by exotic species and urban development. In fact, the Endangered Species Act of the United States provides government protection for them since they are thought to be so endangered.

Ironically, bog turtle demand in the illegal pet trade is still at an all-time high. Although there are already private initiatives under way to counteract the general decline, this is mostly owing to their limited size and features.

Common Snapping Turtle

Given their potential for aggression, common snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) aren’t the most straightforward turtles to care for. In their natural settings, these turtles are in fact apex predators.

From Southern Alberta and Nova Scotia in Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and Texas, the C. serpentina may be found. They cover a large geographic span, as you can see.

Common snapping turtles are capable of biting hard if handled improperly. Although this turtle may be kept in tanks, an outside garden pond is the ideal home for them.

Adult C. serpentina shells range in length from 7.87 to 17.72 inches. The tail of the C. serpentina is quite lengthy—almost as long as its carapace. This chelonian has a dark-colored carapace. There are tubercles on the limbs and neck.

Feeder fish, krill, shrimp, crayfish, worms (earthworms, bloodworms, crickets, and mealworms), and even aquatic plants are consumed by snapping turtles. They will also eat prepared turtle food.

The common snapping turtle will brumate when the temperature is low enough.

African Aquatic Side-Neck Turtle

The neck of an African aquatic side-neck turtle is longer than that of most other turtle species. Two of the most astounding facts concerning this species are highlighted by this.

One reason is because because of its long neck, it cannot completely fit within its shell. Therefore, rather of dragging its head inside, the turtle must turn it to the side and tuck it beneath the ridge of its shell.

Second, you’re undoubtedly aware that a turtle has a difficult time standing back up on its four feet after being rolled over onto its shell. Amazingly, if an African aquatic side-neck turtle is turned upside down onto its greenish-brown shell, it can utilize its long neck to right itself back. Its shell is typically flat and between seven and twelve inches long.

Eastern Africa is where one may find these aquatic turtles. They have a habitat near a brook or stream. This turtle eats fish, plants, and insects in addition to other things.

African Sideneck Turtle (Pelomedusidae)

African sideneck turtles come in a variety of varieties, all of which are indigenous to eastern and southern Africa.

Since they are not heavily exploited by humans like many other turtle species, it is now lawful to sell them in the United States and the United Kingdom. These turtles have a lot of personality despite having a rather simple appearance.

They are curious, however they shouldn’t really be kept alongside other kinds of turtles unless they are the same size as the sideneck (which may grow to be between 8 and 18 inches long), since their curiosity can occasionally make them a bit of bullies and they may bite or shove.

They are known to jump on top of one another and bask on top of whoever is in their chosen place, engaging in a (quite comical) “fight” for the best basking spots. It’s not unusual to find a lot of sidenecks piled on top of one another!

They differ from other turtles in that they can only partially retract their heads inside their shells; instead, they drag them in as far as they will go before turning their neck and heads to the side.

Additionally, you’ll see that sideneck turtles have two tiny barbels on the bottom of their jaws. These very sensitive organs allow them to feel around for food and detect changes in the water that may indicate the presence of prey or a predator.

They are also rather adorable to look at, with big eyes and a mouth that seems to curve up into a smile.

Western Pond Turtles

Western pond turtles, which are frequent residents of rivers, small lakes, streams, and ponds, are known to sunbathe on stones and tree branches in a floodplain. The Western pond turtle, often known as the Pacific pond turtle, also frequents marshes, reservoirs, and irrigation ditches.

They are generally regarded as a medium-sized pond turtle with a yellow belly and black patches and dark streaks on its head. Gender-specific shell morphologies include men having a flatter shell and thicker tails. Comparatively speaking, females have smaller heads, flatter bellies, and higher dome-shaped shells.

A western pond turtle’s diet consists primarily of prey they can easily overpower and catch. They must eat their prey underwater and only forage in the water.

Eastern Mud Turtle

The eastern mud turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum) is often called the common mud turtle. Those who love turtles are particularly fond of this turtle. The eastern mud turtle, while being just 3 to 4 inches long, can be highly aggressive.

If provoked, these turtles will bite. The K. subrubrum will thrive quite well in an outdoor garden pond with temperatures above 70 °F. It’s vital to remember that mud turtles do brumate.

Bring the chelonian indoors during the colder months if you don’t want it to brumate. K. subrubrum is mostly carnivorous and will eat raw lean beef, tilapia, chicken, feeder fish, shrimp, and krill in addition to crickets and other insects.

Additionally, they take commercial turtle diets. Additionally, K. subrubrum consumes algae and aquatic plants.

The K. subrubrum is endemic to North America, more specifically the southern United States, but it can be found in states like Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida on the eastern side of the continent.