Western Pond Turtle

Range:  Central California north into Washington and British Columbia.

Habitat: Ponds, streams, wetlands, and lakes with abundant vegetation, usually found in woodland or grassland habitats.

Diet: Aquatic invertebrates, frogs, worms, fish, aquatic vegetation.

Lifespan:  Up to 50 years.  

Our Pond Turtles

We have several permanent resident turtles here at Turtle Bay that have been rescued and are non-releasable.


Conservation: Turtle Bay is part of a conservation program, raising baby Western pond turtles through a head start program with Sonoma State University, San Francisco Zoo, and Oakland Zoo. These babies are collected as eggs and are raised at Turtle Bay for 8 months making them healthy and strong, giving them a better chance at survival. They will then be returned to the wild in hopes to increase their populations and ensure the survival of this species.

Fun Facts

  • Turtles, like all reptiles are ectothermic, meaning their body temperature is the same as the air around them. To be active, hunt, and digest their food they must warm up by basking in the sun. They are often found on submerged logs and rocks basking, sometimes stacking on top of each other.
  • During the colder winter months, turtles will brumate. This is similar to hibernation in mammals but is controlled only by temperature changes. During brumation, pond turtles will burrow into the mud above or below the water and remain inactive until temperatures warm back up.
  • When babies hatch out, they are less than an inch long.
  • Aquatic turtles lack the muscles to swallow food above water, so they use suction to help them swallow under water.
  • During the summer, pond turtles can hold their breath for over 15 minutes. In winter, they are able to stay submerged much longer as they brumate, sometimes weeks or even months!
  • Pond turtles migrate long distances, so if you see one away from water this is normal.
  • When moving a pond turtle across a road, move them to the side which they were facing.
  • Western Pond Turtles are protected in California; it is illegal to remove them from the wild or keep them as pets.