Spotted Turtle

Clemmys guttata

Order: Testudines

Husbandry Information

Housing Requirements

  • A basic setup with a deep water section and basking area in a large tub or stock tank (at least 6 feet long by 3 feet wide by 3 feet deep or more) will be sufficient to hold a pair of adult turtles.
  • Temperature, Humidity, & Lighting:
    • Temperature: Ambient temps -75 and 80 degrees
    • Humidity:
    • Lighting: mount UVB-emitting bulbs over the spotted pond turtle enclosure, and mount a 100-watt spotlight to create a basking spot of 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Substrate:
  • Water: An efficient filtration system is highly recommended. Use a 250-watt submersible heater to maintain the water temperature at 78 to 80 degrees.

Diet Requirements

  • Spotted pond turtles are carnivorous, eagerly consuming fish, worms, crickets and floating turtle food.

Veterinary Concerns

  • Their need for warm water and an intense basking area is important, and of course a healthy diet will help keep health issues to a minimum. Poor water quality and improper temperatures will result in turtles with eye problems and respiratory issues that will lead to expensive veterinary visits and, potentially, the death of the turtle.

Notes on Enrichment & Training


Colony or Breeding Management

Notes species is housed or managed socially or for breeding purposes.

Individual Identification

Dimorphism: As with most turtles, males have longer, thicker tails than females. The males do not have concave plastrons, as are seen in some other species of turtles.

Programmatic Information


Temperature Guidelines

hot water bottle

    • Brandywine Zoo: During cool weather (under 65°F), supplemental heat is provided with a hot water bottle set to one side of the transport cooler. Place hot water bottle on outside of transport box, but inside secondary cooler.


    • Brandywine Zoo: aquatic turtles travel in a locking-lid type tote that have been amended with extra ventilation holes on the lid (with a wood-burning tool). Some species are transported with 1-2cm of water, while others are transported with the tote lined with very wet (but no standing water) paper towels.

turtle tote


  • During cool weather, the tote is transported inside a larger, secondary Coleman style cooler.

lg cooler  sm cooler

Tips on Presentation

Touching Techniques

  • Buffalo Zoo: No touching

Tips on Handling

Potential Messaging

  • In general, animals seen at the zoo do not make good pets. Most have specialized dietary, veterinary, housing, and social needs that are difficult or impossible for even dedicated pet owners to meet. Always ensure that your future pet has not been taken from the wild. Captured animals are typically mistreated by profit-motivated traffickers and dealers, resulting in many animal deaths; well-meaning animal lovers may feel like they are rescuing animals by purchasing them but are really perpetuating the cruelty. In addition, many exotic pets are released by their owners when they become too dangerous or demanding, often with devastating effects on local ecosystems. Animals that should never be kept as pets include all bats, primates, and exotic carnivores. Birds, fish, and reptiles have specialized needs, are frequently wild-caught, and damage the local environment if released; guests should be advised to educate themselves and proceed with caution. Domestic dogs and cats are almost always the best option! Many deserving animals are available for adoption at animal shelters.
  • Habitat Loss

Acquisition Information

They are protected as both a CITES Appendix I and Endangered Species, but they are nonetheless being captive bred in large numbers, mostly in California and Florida. Captive-hatched babies cannot be shipped out of the state where they were produced (as a commercial transaction) without a Captive Born Wildlife Permit.

Comments from the Rating System

  • Seneca Park Zoo: Very good conservation messaging.

Natural History Information

Range and Habitat

Spotted pond turtles are found in large, deep rivers in northern India, Assam, southern Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Physical Description

Adult female spotted pond turtles average 11 to 12 inches in total length; males are smaller, usually 7 to 8 inches. As with most turtles, males have longer, thicker tails than females. The males do not have concave plastrons, as are seen in some other species of turtles.

Life Cycle

Spotted pond turtles can live 15 to 20 years or more if cared for properly.


They are sun worshippers, so provide plenty of branches and rock piles for them to climb out and bask.

Threats and Conservation Status

The spotted pond turtle received protection from CITES and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1976, and importation was banned.

Did you know…


Cover photo: RUSS GURLEY


Any Documents to attach, species spotlights, etc.

Contributors and Citations