Tag Archives: amphibians

Mediterranean Pond Terrapin

  • Spanish: Galápago leproso
  • Scientific: Mauremys leprosa
  • English: Mediterranean Pond Terrapin
  • French: Émyde lépreuse
  • German: Spanische Wasserschildkröte
  • Italian: Tartaruga palustre iberica
  • Portuguese: Cágado-mediterrânico

Description

The shell of the Mediterranean pond terrapin is olive, brown or grey. The limbs are short and stout, with orange or yellow lines that fade in the older specimens. The carapace normally measures between 13 to 17cm (5 – 6¾ inches) but can occasionally reach 20 cm (8 inches) and is slightly convex in shape. The base of the shell is yellowish, with large blackish spots which fade with age.

It is relatively abundant in the rivers, reservoirs, ponds and all types of aquatic bodies in Spain with good vegetation and refuge on the banks. Sometimes they can be seen in dirty and contaminated water as is often the case when towns and villages in Spain have inadequate sewage treatment works.

They spend many hours sunbathing at the water’s edge or on semi-submerged logs and rocks, quickly diving and staying underwater for long periods at the slightest sign of danger.

The Mediterranean Pond Terrapin is a skilful hunter of fish, amphibians and their larvae, aquatic insects and also feed on carrion.

I have even observed them feeding on livestock excrement (goat and cow)

The breeding season begins in March continuing to July. Up to 22 eggs are laid days 15 to 68 days after copulation which are normally divided between 2 clutches with a 21 to 32 day interval. Hatching occurs after 56 to 82 days.

The name ‘leprosa‘, refers to the algae which grows on its shell which can cause a perforation and deformation of the plates and sometimes gives a malformed appearance. (If you have ever handled a Mediterranean Pond Terrapin then you have also probably noticed the awful stench coming from its shell!)

Conservation Status: not listed

Distribution: Spain, Portugal, southern France, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

Similar species: European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis)


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European Pond Terrapin

  • Spanish: Galápago europeo
  • Scientific: Emys orbicularis
  • English: European Pond Terrapin
  • French: Cistude d’Europe,
  • German: Europäische Sumpfschildkröte
  • Italian: Testuggine palustre
  • Portuguese: Cágado-de-carapaça-estriada

Description

The shell of the European pond terrapin has a black coloured background with yellow radial lines or spots in each plate. This basic scheme is variable, with specimens that have a lighter background and dark radial markings. The plastron (underside of the shell) also varies in colour, which can be completely dark or have large yellowish spots. The skin colour is black, dotted with various yellow markings. The head is large, and the tail long, especially in the males. The shell is wider in the rear section, and can measure around 20cm (8 inches), although more frequently between 12-15cm (5-6inches).

Spanish: Galápago europeo Scientific: Emys orbicularis English: European Pond Terrapin
Spanish: Galápago europeo Scientific: Emys orbicularis English: European Pond Terrapin

They live in water courses which have a slow current with lots of submerged and floating vegetation. They are active from early morning and control their temperature by sunbathing on semi-submerged rocks and logs etc. If disturbed they dive rapidly, going to the bottom and hiding in the mud until the danger has passed.
This species is an opportunist, taking advantage of many food sources such as aquatic insects, larvae, amphibians, fish and carrion.

The breeding season begins in March continuing to July. Up to 16 eggs are laid days 20 to 71 days after copulation which are normally divided between 2 clutches with a 15 to 28 day interval. Hatching occurs after 55 to 78 days.

Far less frequent than Spanish Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa) The threats to this species are habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, the capture of specimens for the pet market and the introduction of exotic species and especially the contamination of waterways.

  • Conservation Status: NT. Near Threatened
  • Distribution: Europe, western Asia and Mediterranean Africa.
  • Similar species: Spanish Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa) of much lighter colour, a generally grey/brown shell and stripes on the necks of young and subadults.
Spanish: Galápago europeo Scientific: Emys orbicularis English: European Pond Terrapin
Spanish: Galápago europeo Scientific: Emys orbicularis English: European Pond Terrapin – NOTE THE EYE! 🙂

Wildside Holidays – Spain

The top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies in Spain. Small family companies living and working in Spain. Local guides are the best!

http://wildsideholidays.co.uk/