Spotted (Black) Pond Turtle

Geoclemys hamiltonii

Order: Testudines

Family: Geoemydinae

Natural History Information

Range and Habitat

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


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

Ecosystem Role


Husbandry Information

Housing Requirements

  • Life Cycle Natural History Relevant Information
    • They are sun worshippers, so provide plenty of branches and rock piles for them to climb out and bask.
    • 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.
    • Water: An efficient filtration system is highly recommended. Use a 250-watt submersible heater to maintain the water temperature at 78 to 80 degrees.
  • Temperature, Humidity, Light Cycles
    • 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
  • Social Housing/Colony Management
  • Other General Housing Requirements or Management information

Diet Requirements

  • Diet in the Wild
  • Diet under human care
    • 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.


  • Behavioral Relevant Information
  • Environmental Enrichment
  • Behavioral Enrichment


  • Behaviors Trained
  • Reinforcers used & schedule of reinforcement

Programmatic Information

Messaging Themes

  • Threats and Conservation Status
    • Habitat loss
    • The spotted pond turtle received protection from CITES and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1976, and importation was banned.
  • Interesting Natural History Information
    • 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.
  • Did you know…

Handling & Presentation Tips


Public Contact and Interaction Guidelines

  • Buffalo Zoo: No touching


Transportation Tips

  • Brandywine Zoo: During cool weather (under 65°F), supplemental heat is provided with a hot water bottle set to one side of the cooler.


Crating Techniques

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

Temperature Guidelines


Acquisition Information

  • Contact Spotted Turtle SSP program leader
  • 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.
  • After looking at other AZA institutions for surplus animals, check with your local herpetological society and reptile rescue organizations. Many of these animals are purchased by the public at reptile stores and expos and owners are unable to keep them for their whole lifespan. If purchasing, look for a reputable breeder to avoid wild caught specimens.



Contributors and Citations

Comments from the Rating System

  • Seneca Park Zoo: Very good conservation messaging.