European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis)

A Roadkill Victim

Coming home from school Thursday, we came upon a European Pond Turtle that had recently been hit by a car. It was still alive and suffering greatly, so I put it out of its misery quickly. I snapped the photo above, not to try to shock people, but to educate people on this beautiful species and to remind them the great toll cars take on wildlife.

It was strange that a turtle was found so far away from water. We live in Senjak neighborhood of Belgrade, and the nearest body of water is the Sava River, which is a good 2-3 kilometers from the street we found the turtle. After doing some research, I found they are “semi-aquatic” and can move 1-4 km away from the water. This excerpt from a science journal:

Emys orbicularis species have become rare in most countries even though they are widely distributed in Europe. The building of roads and driving of cars through natural habitats of Emys is a possible factor that threatens the populations of the European pond turtle. Road networks and traffic often carry complex ecological effects to animal populations such as fragmenting natural habitats and creating barriers for animal movement. Mortality on the road is most likely due to females selecting nests near roads which places a potential danger for the hatchlings as well. Hatchlings that wander too closely to roads are more likely to be killed and put the future population in danger. Although the possibility of roads being a major causation for the mortality of Emys orbicularis turtles is a rare phenomenon, long-term monitoring is necessary.

^ Trakimas, G. and J. Sidaravicius. 2008. Road mortality threatens small northern populations of the European pond turtle, Emys orbicularis. Acta Herpetologica. Vol. 3, Iss. 2, p. 161-166.

They are traditionally a popular pet. I would have loved to heal and take care of the turtle but it was beyond hope. With this blog post, I hope people slow down driving and public officials take into account roadkill when planning transportation systems.

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