The European marsh turtle (Emys orbiсularis) refers to freshwater turtles from the genus Marsh turtles. Recently, a reptile of this species has been increasingly found as an original and not too whimsical pet.
Appearance and description
The European marsh turtle has an oval, low and slightly convex carapace with a smooth surface and a movable connection with the lower carapace. Young individuals of this species are characterized by rounded carapace with a weak middle keel on the posterior rounded part.
On the limbs there are long and fairly sharp claws, and between the fingers there are small sized membranes. The tail is very long. The adult turtle has a tail up to a quarter meter long. It is the tail that plays an important role in swimming, and serves, along with the hind limbs, a kind of additional steering. The average length of an adult can vary between 12-38 cm with a body weight of one and a half kilograms.
The coloring of the shell of an adult turtle is usually dark olive, brownish-brown or dark brown, almost black with small spots, strokes or dots of yellow. Plastron of dark brown or yellowish color with blurry spots of dark color. The area of the head, neck, legs and tail is also in dark colors, with a large number of yellow spots. The eyes have a very characteristic yellow, orange or reddish iris. A specific feature is the smooth edges of the jaws and the complete absence of a “beak”.
Habitat and habitat
European marsh turtles are quite widespread throughout the southern as well as central and eastern parts of Europe; they are found in the Caucasus and in most Asian countries. A significant population of this type is noted in almost all countries that until recently belonged to the territory of the Soviet Union.
It is interesting! As shown by numerous studies, in the preglacial period in European territory, this species was more widespread, and in some areas even today, relict residual populations can be found.
Lifestyle and behavior
Marsh turtles prefer to settle in forest, steppe and forest-steppe zones, but they are also quite common in fresh natural reservoirs represented by swamps, ponds, lakes, slowly flowing rivers and large water channels.
Optimal for life are flat natural reservoirs with gently sloping shores and very well-heated shallow areas with a sufficient amount of vegetation. Individual individuals are found even in mountain ranges.
It is interesting! It was experimentally proved that a marsh turtle in an aquatic environment at a temperature of 18 ° C is able to survive almost two days without air.
During the period of mass breeding, adult sexually mature turtles are able to leave the reservoir and move away from it at a distance of 300-500 m. The reptile can swim and dive perfectly, and can also spend a long time under water, floating to the surface every quarter of an hour. Marsh turtles belong to the category of semi-aquatic animals that are active in the daytime and for a long time bask in the sun. The turtle can feed throughout the day, and at night it goes to bed at the bottom of a natural reservoir.
In natural conditions, several varieties of bog turtles are common, which differ in behavioral traits, diet and average life expectancy. The European marsh turtle is the most common species, but the life "resource" of such a reptile can vary significantly depending on habitat conditions and territorial features.
All individuals inhabiting central Europe are able to live up to fifty years, and turtles that live on the territory of Ukraine, as well as Belarus and our country, rarely “cross” the line of forty years. In captivity, the marsh turtle, as a rule, lives no more than a quarter century.
Maintenance of a pond turtle at home
At home, bog turtles require competent care at all stages of growth and development. It is very important to choose the right aquarium, as well as provide the reptile with high-quality care and a complete, as balanced diet as possible. In order to decorate the underwater space, wood snags and artificial vegetation are most often used, which allows you to equip the good underwater shelters necessary for your pet to have a good rest and night sleep.
Aquarium selection and features
For a pair of adult European turtles, it is advisable to purchase an aquarium, the volume of which should exceed three hundred liters. The third part of this design is always allocated for land, on which the room reptile can periodically heat up or rest. A pair of turtles will feel quite comfortable in an aquarium with dimensions of 150x60x50 cm.
The most optimal place for keeping a marsh turtle will be a small and well-fenced artificial pond in the local area. Such a garden pond should be most of the day in direct sunlight, which will ensure uniform and stable heating of the water. In a street reservoir, small places must be arranged, as well as a platform for sunbathing by freshwater animals. The coastline is usually used by turtles to lay eggs, so it should be sandy.
In the southern regions of our country, depending on weather conditions, you can place turtles in a garden pond from early spring, and leaving them there until late autumn, which will allow the animal’s body to naturally prepare for the wintering period. The turtle should winter at a temperature of 4 ° C, therefore, experts recommend arranging a “winter” with the turtle inside an ordinary household refrigerator.
Care and hygiene
One of the most basic requirements for keeping a European marsh turtle at home is the purity of the aquarium water. Such an amphibian pet does not differ in cleanliness, therefore, all waste products and waste from feed quickly become the main problem of clean water.
The pathogenic and pathogenic putrefactive microflora multiplies very quickly, therefore, in the absence of quality care, it can cause the development of eye diseases or pathological changes in the skin. It is very important to install a powerful and highly efficient filter that has the maximum possible volume and soft flow.
Important! To facilitate the systematic cleaning of the aquarium water and the entire structure, it is desirable to minimize the number of decorations on the bottom and reduce the volume of underwater soil.
How to feed a swamp turtle
Under natural conditions, bog turtles belong to the category of omnivorous amphibians, but the basis of the diet is most often different medium-sized invertebrate animals represented by mollusks, worms and various crustaceans.
Very often, prey turtles are underwater or land insects, as well as their larvae. In large quantities, the larvae of insects such as dragonflies, divingfish, mosquitoes, wood lice and beetles are eaten. There are also cases of swamp turtles eating young snakes or chicks of a waterfowl, as well as any carrion.
At home, despite the omnivorous and unpretentious, the issue of feeding a swamp turtle should be approached very carefully. The main diet must include:
- lean meats of fish, including haddock, cod, perch and pollock;
- liver components, including chicken or beef liver and heart;
- crustaceans and arthropods, including crustaceans of daphnia, worms and beetles;
- all kinds of marine animals;
- small mammals and amphibians.
A prerequisite for good nutrition is supplementation of the diet with dry and plant foods, which can be represented by vegetables and fruits, herbs, aquatic vegetation, as well as special food for a turtle.
It is interesting! Young growing specimens and pregnant females are given food once a day, and the diet of adults involves feeding only three times a week.
Health, Disease, and Prevention
Freshwater species of turtles rarely get sick under conditions of proper maintenance, and have good innate immunity.
However, the owner of such a pet may encounter the following problems:
- colds, accompanied by irregular and difficult breathing, mucous discharge from the nose or mouth, refusal to eat, apathy and wheezing during breathing;
- rectal prolapse or prolapse of the rectum;
- diarrhea caused by poor or stale food;
- ribbon and round helminths that enter the body of the animal along with unprocessed food;
- intestinal obstruction;
- paralysis of various origins;
- dystocia or delayed egg laying;
With improper arrangement of the aquarium, injuries and various damages to the skin of the animal are not excluded.
It is interesting! Most often, inexperienced or novice owners of the marsh turtle make various significant errors in care, which cause the shell to deform. As a rule, this phenomenon is the result of an acute shortage of vitamin complexes and calcium at the stage of growing or active growth of the turtle.
Reproduction of the European marsh turtle
Males, unlike females, have a longer and thicker tail, as well as a slightly concave plastron. Egg-laying is carried out in the pits on the sandy shore, in close proximity to the reservoir.
The laid ellipsoidal eggs are buried by the female. Newborn turtles have almost black coloring and a very slightly pronounced yellow pattern. Young animals are fed throughout the winter period due to a sufficiently large yolk sac located on the abdomen.
All turtles are characterized by temperature determination of the sex of all offspring; therefore, at incubation temperatures of 30 ° C or more, females hatch exclusively from eggs, and only males at low temperature indices.
Intermediate temperatures cause cubs of both sexes to be born.
The average duration of the main active period directly depends on many factors, the main of which are climatic conditions. In our country, bog turtles get out of hibernation around April or the first decade of May, after the air temperature reaches 6-14 ° C and the water temperature is 5-10 ° C. The wintering period begins in the last decade of October or early November. Hibernation occurs in the muddy bottom of a reservoir. At home, the reptile in winter fully retains its activity.
Buy marsh turtle, price
European marsh turtles, due to their original appearance, a fairly wide distribution and relative unpretentiousness in home maintenance, in recent years are increasingly becoming a decoration for aquariums of lovers of such exotic pets. In addition, amateurs of amphibians are bribed by the quite affordable cost of such a pet. The average price of one young individual, regardless of gender, is about one and a half thousand rubles.
As the practice of home maintenance shows, special attention is required to observe the water temperature at the level of 25-27 ° C, and the temperature of the place of heating within 36-40 ° C. With constant maintenance in the room, the pet will need to provide not only an adequate temperature, but also sufficiently bright lighting, which will allow maintaining the metabolic processes in the body of the turtle at the proper level.
In general, this type of turtles rightly belongs to the category of undemanding in care and unpretentious in conditions of detention. It is important to remember that bog turtles are currently found in many European reserves, where they are classified as protected species, therefore, it is strongly discouraged to acquire individuals caught in the natural habitat.