European Pond Turtle

Emys orbicularis


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Not evaluated Data deficient Least concern Near threatened VULNERABLE Endangered Critically endangered Extinct in the wild Extinct
Assessment info
Habitat and Ecology
Use and Trade
Conservation Actions


Scientific name

Emys orbicularis


(Linnaeus, 1758)


Testudo orbicularis Linnaeus, 1758; Emys orbicularis ssp. capolongoi Fritz, 1995; Emys orbicularis ssp. colchica Fritz, 1994; Emys orbicularis ssp. eiselti Fritz, Baran, Budak & Amthauer, 1998; Emys orbicularis ssp. fritzjuergenobsti Fritz, 1993; Emys orbicularis ssp. galloitalica Fritz, 1995; Emys orbicularis ssp. hellenica (Valenciennes in Bibron & Bory de Saint-Vicent, 1832); Emys orbicularis ssp. hispanica Fritz, Keller & Budde, 1996; Emys orbicularis ssp. iberica Eichwald, 1831; Emys orbicularis ssp. ingauna Jesu, Piombo, Salvidio, Lamagni, Ortale & Genta, 2004; Emys orbicularis ssp. lanzai Fritz, 1995; Emys orbicularis ssp. luteofusca Fritz, 1989; Emys orbicularis ssp. occidentalis Fritz, 1993; Emys orbicularis ssp. persica Eichwald, 1831; Testudo europaea Schneider, 1783

Assessment info

IUCN Red List Category and Criteria

VU – Vulnerable, B1ab(i,ii,iii)+2ab(i,ii,iii)

Date assessed

November 2019


Sterijovski, B.

Arsovski, D.


Ajtic, R.




Hofman, M.P.G.


While the area of occupancy (AOO) is only 332km2, the European pond turtle is difficult to spot, often needing special traps to be observed, thus this value might be an underestimation. Due to its preference for stagnant freshwater habitats, its populations are widespread around the country (extent of occurrence [EOO] = 14.671km2), but severely fragmented in light of its limited dispersal capabilities (Rogner 2009). Namely, besides the three large non-glacial natural lakes in North Macedonia which offer suitable habitats and some artificial lakes, only few wetlands are left in the country, the largest one being Monospitovo marsh, which is nevertheless under huge anthropogenic pressure (Melovski et al. 2008). The continuous degradation of the the freshwater habitats this species calls home, will likely bring about reductions in its AOO and EOO; it is additionally the target of some illegal traffic (Nikolić & Golubović 2017). The species could be placed in the Endangered category, but since its AOO is possibly larger than what we currently know (i.e. >500km2), and because it could potentially benefit from regional rescue effects from neighbouring countries it is considered Vulnerable. Globally and in Europe, this species has been assessed as Near Threatened.


Current population trend



Where present seemingly common. Nevertheless, its freshwater habitats are among the most endangered, globally, implying a decreasing trend in national European Pond Turtle population sizes. Basic field observations indicate that the largest national population is likely in Monospitovo marsh in the Strumica region.

Habitat and Ecology


Terrestrial, Freshwater (=Inland waters)

Habitat and Ecology

Stagnant or slow-flowing and sometimes ephemeral water bodies of very variable size and origin (ponds, lakes, rice-fields, drainage canals etc., Tortoise & Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group 1996; Speybroeck et al. 2016).

Use and trade

Use and trade

Large numbers of animals are captive-bred by hobbyists and distributed within the hobbyist community, and many are illegally trafficked (eg. >1300 individuals were confiscated in 2012 at the Macedonian – Serbian border [Nikolić & Golubović et al. 2017]). In North Macedonia animals are bred in tortoise farms. Currently six tortoise farms operate in the country (Nikolić et al. 2018), few also breeding terrapins in artificial ponds.



The main threats are: loss of habitat due to agricultural expansion and intensification, and regulation of rivers and shoreline development (Rogner 2009); agro-chemicals and other pollution impacts; urbanization and tourist infrastructure development; collection for pet trade; introduction of alien species (e.g. Trachemys scripta across Europe; few individuals have been observed in Skopje and Katlanovo); genetic pollution; road mortality. It is often locally endangered and even extinct (Firtz & Chiari 2013). In Macedonia overcollection could also be a big threat (Nikolić & Golubović 2017), especially if we recognize that in the lack of strict control, legal terrapin-farms can easily be used as platforms that facilitate the export of wild-caught individuals. All threats listed for this species are included in the list of priority threats to biological diversity in the “NATIONAL Strategy for biodiversity of Republic of Macedonia” (Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, 2018).

Conservation actions

Conservation actions

It is listed on Annex I and II of the Bern Convention and on Annex II and IV of the EU Habitats Directive. It appears on the list of nationally protected wild species.



Sillero, N., Campos, J., Bonardi, A., Corti, C., Creemers, R., Crochet, P.-A., Crnobrnja-Isailović, J., Denoël, M., Ficetola, G.F., Gonçalves, J., Kuzmin, S., Lymberakis, P., de Pous, P., Rodríguez, A., Sindaco, R., Speybroeck, J., Toxopeus, B., Vieites, D.R., Vences, M. 2014. Updated .pdistribution and biogeography of amphibians and reptiles of Europe. .p 1-31.

Uzunova, D., Kitanova, D., Spirovska, M., Hristovski, S. 2015. Integral Report for the Project implementation. Final report of the project “Ecological data gap analysis and ecological sensitivity map development for the Bregalnica river watershed”. Skopje . .p/.

Particip. 2017. ‘Strengthening the capacities for implementation of NATURA 2000’. MoEPP. Skopje . .p/.

Ministry of environment and physical planning. 2018. National biodiversity strategy and action plan : for the period 2018 – 2023. Ministry of environment and physical planning. Skopje. .p 183.

Speybroeck, J. Beuckema, W., Bok, B., Voort, J.V.D. 2016.Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. London
Tortoise & Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group 1996 Emys orbicularis (errata version published in 2016). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . .p/.

Rogner, M. 2009. European pond turtle Emys orbicularis. Edition Chimera Frankfurt
Fritz, U., Chiari, Y. 2013. Conservation actions for European pond turtles – a summary of current efforts in distinct European countries. .p 107-110.

Nikolić , S., Golubović, A. 2017. Confiscated Emys orbicularis (L., 1758) Dying Out in a “Temporary” Reception Facility in Serbia: a Case Study Showing the Urgency for a Regional Reptile Rescue Centre. .p 115-120.

Gasc, J-P., Cabela, A., Crnobrnja-Isailović, J., Dolmen, D., Grossenbacher, K., Haffner, P., Lescure, J., Martens, H., Martinez-Rica, J.P., Maurin, H., Oliveira, M.L., Sofianidou, T.S., Veith, M., Zuiderwijk, A. 1997. Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Europe. Societas Europaea Herpetologica & Museum Nationall d’ Histoire Naturelle (IEGB/SPN). Paris. .p 496.

Sterijovski, B. 2018 Final report for monitoring. In: Project for Exploitation of Mineral Resources Borov Dol. Maneko. Skopje
Uhrin, M., Havaš, P., Minarik, M., Kodejš, K., Bugoš, I., Danko, S., Husák, T., Koleska, D., Jablonski, D. 2016. Distribution updates to amphibian and reptile fauna for the Republic of Macedonia. .p 201-220.
Melovski, Lj., Ivanov, Gj., Angelova, N., Velevski, M., Hristovski, S. 2008. Monospitovsko blato. Poslednoto mocuriste vo Makedonija. Opstina Bosilovo. Bosilovo 55