Photo: Monika Podgorelec

European Pond Terrapin
Emys orbicularis

The Pond Terrapin is our only indigenous freshwater turtle. It inhabits fresh and semi-saline waters and had been very common in Slovenia prior to wetland drainage. Owing to the extensive land reclamation and other encroachments upon watercourses, as well as on the account of urbanization and road construction, its abundance has suffered a great decline. In the northeastern part of the country, it can be seen along the Drava and Mura Rivers.

Threat factors

In Slovenia, the Pond Turtle is particularly endangered by the increasing disappearance of suitable habitats, fragmentation of aquatic habitats due to filling, drainage and overgrowing of former river branches, oxbow lakes and depressions, as well as due to the introduction of nonindigenous competing turtle species into nature. Despite the fact that it is indispensably associated with aquatic habitats, its reproduction also requires suitable land habitats, especially for egg-laying. To preserve the Pond Terrapin’s populations, it is therefore of utmost importance to protect satisfactory aquatic and land habitats and their connecting corridors.

Project activities

To conserve the European Pond Terrapin successfully, we shall provide for new and restoration of existing aquatic habitats (oxbow lakes). We shall remove nonindigenous turtle species, which is absolutely necessary both from the aspect of preserving the terrapin and from the aspect of conserving the species diversity of aquatic ecosystems. Furthermore, we shall indirectly contribute to a more favourable microclimate in the area, to the increase of local species diversity and to the reduction of flood risk in the area. To build people’s awareness as to the importance of conserving the Pond Terrapin, habitats and natural river processes, educational interpretation points will also be set up.


What can we do to improve the European Pond Terrapin's conservation status?

  • No nonindigenous turtle species should be released into nature. Let us try to find new owners for them.
  • Let us adjust speed on the road. Let us be careful on the road near aquatic habitats. From March, when Pond Terrapins begin to wake up, until June, when they begin to mate and lay eggs, their migratory activities are at their peak.
  • Let us preserve and protect the wetlands. Let us protect the nests from predators, and if they happen to be on our agricultural land, let us mark them and make sure that we shall not drive over or near them with heavy agricultural machines.

Why do we need the European Pond Terrapin?

The Pond Terrapin’s presence indicates a good conservation status of aquatic habitats and, in turn, their water quality. The habitats occupied by Pond Terrapins play a significant role in the regulation of microclimate and groundwater status.

Sources and literature