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Clemmys marmorata, Western pond turtle

Page history last edited by PBworks 11 years, 10 months ago



Clemmys marmorata,


Western pond turtle


Western Pond Turtle     Clemmys marmorata, plastron      

Photo By Chris Brown                                                                                                       Photo By James Buskirk




Tetrapoda: Amniota: Squamata: Reptilia: Testudines: Emydidae: marmorata




In the state of Idaho there are only two species of turtle the Painted turtle Chrysemys picta and the Western pond turtle shown here.  The key characteristic that is different from the Painted is that this turtle does not have the "painted" lines on the neck and limbs.  Instead it has carefully designed cryptic coloration of mottling on its limbs, head and neck, and its carapace.  The plastron is a creme white to tan with dark coloration slightly protruding towards the center.




The primary distribution for this turtle is along the west coast stretching from Northern Washington to Southern California.  There is also two locations inland in Grant Co. Oregon and Jerome Co. Idaho.  In the case for Idaho there was one specimen collected in 1894 on the Snake River, however, no other specimens have been found since (Nussbaum, Brodie, & Storm 1983).



Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife           www.wikipedia.org




These turtle are mostly aquatic meaning that they spend most of their time in or around the water.  They prefer water that is slow moving, hence the name.  Though they can sometimes be found in terrestrial environments they prefer water with plenty of emergent vegetation and basking sights.  This is also true with the juveniles but seem to have more specialized habitat (Ashton, Lind, & Schlick 2008). 




These turtles are known to be opportunistic during feeding by usually only taking live prey that pass by (Bury 1986).  Their diet does not completely consist of live prey, it will also encompass foods as carrion and may feed on aquatic plants as well (Bury1986,Holland 1994)




As with most animals there is a display between males and females before copulation.  Copulation varies with conditions and geographic region but can happen anywhere between May and September.  In pond turtles a light scratching from the males on the female seems to initiate copulation .  Females will then deposit her eggs in a terrestrial dry environment and then cover them up.  This is where they will stay until they hatch(Holland 1988).  Clutches are normally about four to seven eggs but are capable to have up to thirteen (Holland 1994).


Scientific Studies


A study was done in a few drainages in California to monitor habitat use by C. marmorata.  The study radio tagged 34 turtles and tracked them for at least one year.  They used epoxy to attach the tags to the carapace and camouflaged them with copier tonner.  The turtles in this study used land for three different reasons.  They sought refuge from flooding, during nesting periods, and were found on land when just resting.  The third was considered due to its distance from water.



Rathbun, G. B., Scott, N. J. Jr., AND Murphey, T. G. 2002. Terrestrial Habitat Use by Pacific Pond Turtles in a Mediterranean Climate. The Southwestern Naturalist. 47:225-235 




Ashton, D.T., Lind, A.J., AND Schlick, K.E. 2008. Western Pond Turtle (Clemmys marmorata). Natural History. USDA Forest Service, Packific Southwest Research Station. Arcata, CA.


Bury, R. B. 1986. Feeding ecology of the turtle, Clemmys marmorata. Journal of Herpetology,Vol. 20, No. 4, pp.515-521.


Holland, D. C. 1988. Clemmys marmorata. Western pond turtle: Behavior. Herp. Review 19:87-88.


Holland, D.C. 1994. The western pond turtle: habitat and history. ODFG final report.


Nussbaum, R. A., Brodie, E. D., AND Storm, R. M. 1983. Amphibians & Reptiles of the Pacific Northwest. University of Idaho Press. Moscow, ID. pgs 201-205


Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife





Created By: Andrew Mackey mack0739@vadnals.uidaho.edu



















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