Western Pond Turtle

(Actinemys marmorata)


Western Pond Turtle IUCN VULNERABLE (VU)


Facts about this animal

The western pond turtle reaches a carapace length of up to 18 cm. The carapace is low with shields that have a network of lines or dashes of brown or black on a olive or dark background coming from its growth centres. The colour of the limbs and head is olive, yellow, orange or brown often with darker lines, flecks or spots.

There is a sexual dimorphism in that the male has a lighter throat and a tail that is much longer than that of the female with the cloaca extending past the end of the shell, whereas the cloaca of the female does not extend past the end of the shell. The male's shell is usually flatter and less marked than a female's, with underside concave.

In juveniles, the tail is as long as the shell; head, limbs and tail are marked with yellow, and the shields of the carapace have a striking pattern of radiating lines.

Did you know?
that more than 90 percent of the freshwater ponds, marshes and year-round streams where the western pond turtles once lived have been drained, diverted or developed? Additional threats include predation of hatchlings by non-native bullfrogs and black bass.


Name (Scientific) Actinemys marmorata
Name (English) Western Pond Turtle
Name (French) Tortue de l'Ouest
Name (German) Pazifische Sumpfschildkröte
Name (Spanish) Tortuga de estanque del Pacífico
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
United States Geological Survey



Range Mexico and western USA. This is the only native freshwater turtle in northern Baja California, California, southern Oregon and Nevada. The species also occurs in western Oregon, Washington and southern British Columbia.
Habitat In streams, large rivers, slow-moving sloughs, and quiet waters, from sea level to around 1,500 m. Aquatic habitats with adequate vegetative cover and exposed basking sites are preferred, but significant amounts of time may be spent in upland terrestrial habitats as well.
Wild population Unknown
Zoo population 263 reported to ISIS (2005)

In the Zoo

Western Pond Turtle


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 43 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
United States Geological Survey

Why do zoos keep this animal

The western pond turtle is threatened in the wild. Zoos keep and breed the species with a view of maintaining a reserve population, contributing to reintroduction programmes and otherwise linking the keeping of the species with in situ conservation actions.