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New World Pond Turtles: Emydidae

Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Painted Turtle (chrysemys Picta): Species AccountsGEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, NEW WORLD POND TURTLES AND PEOPLE


Members of this family live in North and South America, Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa.

New World pond turtles may live in tropical areas, where it feels like summer all year, or in cooler areas that have all four seasons, including winter. These cooler areas are known as "temperate climates." Many turtles spend almost their entire lives in or near ponds, lakes, and other freshwater areas, though some can live quite well in saltier waters. Other species live their lives mainly on land.

Depending on the species, New World pond turtles may eat meat, plants, or a combination of meat and plants. Sometimes, baby turtles begin their lives as meat eaters but start to munch plants as they grow older. The meat eaters may dine on such animals as fishes, tadpoles, insects, worms, and slugs. Turtles that eat plants prefer grasses, flowers, and berries. They also eat algae (AL-jee), or tiny plantlike growths that live in water.

People enjoy seeing turtles in the wild, but the numbers of many New World pond turtles are dropping. People once collected and killed these turtles to eat their meat. While that practice is not as common anymore, turtles still face threats from too much collecting for the pet trade or from car traffic on roads they cross to reach a pond, nesting site, or other area.

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