Western Pond Turtle

Western pond turtles (Emys marmorata) frequent lakes, ponds, and slow-moving streams and seek out basking areas in sunny places. Ecologists have long been concerned about the apparent lack of breeding among western pond turtles because field surveys often failed to reveal young turtles. However, when artificial basking substrates are introduced into lakes and ponds, the addition of basking areas that are relatively risk-free from predators attracts any turtles that might be in the area. The silver dollar-sized hatchlings often stay in the warm shallow waters where they can hide under floating mats of algae. Western pond turtles have been resident here in Turtle Pond since the landowners purchased the property in the late 1970s.

Breeding occurs from April to July. Female turtles may move hundreds of yards away from water to deposit eggs in a small hole they dig with their hind feet. After deposition, eggs are covered and left to incubate in the sun-warmed earth. These turtle nests are vulnerable to predation by raccoons and feral pigs (Wilcox 2010).Evidence that northern pond turtles are successfully reproducing at Dolcini Pond came to light after a basking raft, designed by The Wildlife Project (J. Alvarez, 2006) was placed in the pond in the summer of 2010. Within a few weeks, turtles of all ages (ranging from two to eight inches in carapace length) were using the basking raft. An adult turtle was also observed at Leaky Lake, but no basking substrate exists there yet, so the extent to which turtles use this reservoir is unknown.

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