Western Pond Turtle

Western Pond Turtle- Jean Yim

Western Pond Turtle
Actinemys marmorata

Western pond turtles live in ponds, large rivers, streams, marshes, and even roadside ditches. They eat mostly insects but will also eat small fish, frogs, and sometimes plants.

When frightened, a pond turtle hides under a rock, log, or plant. If it cannot find cover, it will withdraw its head and limbs into its shell and remain motionless.

In the wild, western pond turtles face competition from the non-native red-eared slider turtle. Biologists and conservation organizations are working to protect pond turtle habitat and food sources.

We have two resident pond turtles, Stebbins, a Northern Western pond turtle, and Emmy, a Southern Western pond turtle. Both are used for classes, school programs, birthday parties, and public presentations.

Stebbins’ exact age is unknown but he is over 38 years old as of 2021. This turtle came into the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital with severe shell rot (a fungal or bacterial infection that is usually a sign of improper husbandry). His shell healed after rehabilitation but his growth was permanently stunted. He is named after the famous herpetologist Robert Stebbins. Due to habitat destruction and other threats, the Western pond turtle is considered a species of special concern in California. They are also the last remaining species of freshwater turtle native to California.

Emmy hatched in 1987. This means Emmy will turn 34 years old in 2021.  Emmy was originally found as an egg by a dog in Fremont park and was hatched in captivity.  She was kept as a pet prior to being donated to Lindsay Wildlife in 2002. Emmy has laid non-fertile eggs several times over the years while at Lindsay Wildlife. 

Emmy and Stebbins participated in a study to help the SSP, Western pond turtle stud book, and AZA SAFE to obtain more information on the species. Emmy and Stebbins had their blood/DNA sent out for testing in the summer of 2019. Through these samples and an analysis of their mitochondrial DNA we were able to get more information on their geographic origin.