Foto: Tomasz Łukasiewicz
European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis)
Turtles emerged in the world 200 million years ago. Their longevity is due to the armor of horn which protects them from predators. In the Odra River basin there lives the European pond turtle, inhabiting shallow water bodies with dense vegetation and a muddy bottom. It spends most of its life in the water. It comes ashore just to lay eggs, or bask in the sun. It breathes atmospheric air using lungs and therefore it can stay underwater for the maximum of one hour. It has a very well developed senses of smell and sight, but it is completely devoid of hearing. It is difficult to find it in nature because it leads a timid and secret life. The European pond turtle can be recognized by yellow spots visible both on the carapace and skin. It preys on small aquatic animals, though it will not despise carrion. In the absence of teeth it catches the prey and rips it apart by claws. It belongs to cold-blooded animals which spend the winter buried in the mud at the bottom of the water tank. Since wetlands are drained an used by humans the natural habitat of the European pond turtle is diminishing and it is threatened with extinction.