Western Pond Turtle
The Western pond turtle is the West Coast’s only native freshwater turtle and a protected species. A local family kept our new Western pond turtle as a pet, but could no longer care for her. She was given to the Peninsula Humane Society and then brought to the JMZ. Turtles that live in captivity cannot be released back into the wild. This ensures that wild ponds turtles do not catch diseases from turtles that have been in close contact with people. Western pond turtles can live up to 80 years in captivity, which makes caring for them a long-term commitment.
Western pond turtles live in calm streams, ponds, lakes, and marshes. When these bodies of water dry up during summer months, Western pond turtles dig into mud and draw in oxygen through their skin. This helps them survive throughout dry months when water sources are not as easy to find.
The population of Western pond turtles is on a steep decline in the wild. These turtles are an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) species. Participating zoos continue to work together to create conservation action plans to protect Western pond turtles from disease, habitat loss, and predation.
The Western pond turtle will be featured in JMZ zookeeper reptile talks once the weather warms.
The newest stars of reptile talks, these six snapping turtles were illegally imported into California by someone intending to sell them. In the long-run, the JMZ cannot care for all six, so staff are working to find homes for them in permitted facilities where they will receive the best care.
The common snapping turtle prefers to live in shallow, slow-moving bodies of water with muddy bottoms, so that they can hide. Like their name suggests, snapping turtles have powerful jaws that allow them to snap and catch food. During reptile talks, members of the JMZ’s animal care team are able to feed these turtles and show off how they consume food. These amazing creatures can live up to 47 years in captivity.