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72 baby European pond turtles released into the wild


A total of 72 baby European pond turtles were released in the Meteliai Regional Park. European pond turtle is one of the species which is moving most rapidly toward extinction not only in Lithuania but also in Europe. It is included in the Lithuanian Red Book.

In our country, baby European pond turtles need to be rescued every year because female turtles lay eggs in egg-laying sites that are often close to roads, arable land or other sites of human activities. Another threat is foxes and other predators. Turtle eggs laid not very deep in the soil are an easy prey for them.

Besides, the number of small and sunny bodies of water suitable for these reptiles to live and southern slopes fit for nesting have significantly declined. Having failed to find suitable places for laying eggs, female turtles lay them on gravel roads or in arable fields. Employees working in the protected areas collect such eggs and take them to the Lithuanian Zoo for incubation.

According to the specialists from the Meteliai Regional Park Directorate, last autumn the majority of baby turtles were transferred to the Lithuanian Zoo where they stayed for the winter. After they have grown and become stronger, they returned to already warmer ponds in the Dzūkija region in summer.
European pond turtles feed on various animals that live in water and on land, mainly on arthropods. They are considered to be only semi-aquatic animals as they can travel as far as several kilometres from water bodies.

Neighbouring countries such as Poland and Belarus also have European pond turtle populations; however, the subspecies of turtles in these countries are better adapted to survive in more rigorous conditions.

European pond turtles are a natural property of our land which must be protected. For this reason, naturalists help baby turtles survive winter and return them to their favourite habitats in the summertime. In the Dzūkija ethnographic region, there are currently around 500–600 European pond turtles.

Public Relations Division
3 July 2017

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas