Three infertile Pond turtle eggs, four others hatched and were fine. La Brenne, France
Left, European pond turtle fitted with radio transmitter.
Right, Monitoring the position and movements of Pond Turtles in France.
Reproduction for Cistudes as with other amphibious creatures can be a dangerous affair, the male during courtship can inflict serious injuries on the female with his sharp claws but without these he would never maintain a grip during coupling; the female also has to be sure to get onto a firm surface at the waterside to avoid being drowned, even more so if a second male decides to get involved. Having survived this risky affair which generally takes place in April or May a short period of time elapses, then in June or July the female climbs out of the water and searches for a piece of land that will not flood where she lays between 3 and 13 eggs, normally 8 or 9 in a small hole in soft soil. The young break out together and find their way to the water after a period of incubation of about 3 months, if the births are too late in the year the young may remain in hibernation where they were born. Hibernation normally takes place from October to March often in banks of rushes. Sexual maturity is reached between 8 and 15 years in the case of males, 10 to 15 years for females and they have a natural life span of 40 to 60 years, 100 years or more being possible.
European Pond Turtle which is the native species in France, distinctly different from the Red-eared slider above.
Red-ear slider or Florida turtle is an introduced species in France , often as a result of being released into a pond, canal, lake or similar when someone has had enough of keeping it as a pet. Unfortunately this disrupts the local habitat and causes serious problems for the native species.
The Cistude d’Europe is about 20cm long with a smooth domed shell, brownish grey in colour with yellow dots and dashes, they can be found in both small and large lakes, canals and rivers of all types with a preference for plenty of surface and submerged vegetation with reed banks. Here they can source their food which is predominately insects and small water creatures although on occasion they will eat small sick or dead fish and small rodents etc. that fall and drown in the water.
The Cistude d’europe is one of the two native freshwater turtle present in France, the other being l’Emyde Lépreuse Mauremys leprosa, which is only found in parts of Languedoc-Roussillon. There is a third freshwater turtle la Tortue à tempes rouges or the Florida Turtle Trachemys scripta elegans .which can be found in almost every region, these have been introduced.
European Pond Turtle
The Cistude likes to be left in peace and quiet being generally fearful and always alert for any threat. It will move around an area by between 40 and 80 metres a day and in some cases will leave the water it is in to move to another stretch of water nearby. In the case of females this will only be a few hundred metres, for males this distance can be more than a kilometre.