Added September 14 2003. Last updated 29 December 2013: added link to Emys.

Emydidae

Freshwater Turtles

The Emydidae form a large group of freshwater and semi-aquatic turtles found mainly in the New World, with a couple of representatives in Europe and North Africa. A number of them are popular and often easy to care for terrarium subjects. However, this latter category does not include the Terrapene, or Box Turtles, which are in fact more demanding captives than traditionally credited. Likewise the attractive Map Turtles (Graptemys) need stringent cleanliness in their tanks, or they suffer ill health quite quickly. The Red-Eared Sliders, or terrapins, of the Trachemys genus have also proven so successful that they have settled far outside their original range and in some cases become a pest in the ecological balance of their new homes.

Wermuth in Grzimek gives the following characteristics for the Emydidae:

Most emydid turtles prefer quiet or slowly flowing fresh water.

Genus

Common Name

No. of species

Distribution

Notes

Actinemys

Western/Pacific Pond Turtle

1

W Canada, W USA and NW Mexico

Formerly considered part of Clemmys

Chrysemys

Painted Turtles

1

S Canada, USA and Mexico

4 subspecies

Clemmys

Spotted, Bog & Wood Turtles

1

USA and Canada, also Mexico

Formerly included the species now assigned to Actinemys and Glyptemys

Deirochelys

Chicken Turtle

1

USA

Popular name derives from the supposed taste of the flesh.

Emydoidea

Blanding's Turtle

1

Canada (S Ontario), USA

 

Emys

European Pond Turtle

1

Most of Europe, Russia, Iran and N Africa

 

Glyptemys

Wood- and Bog Turtles

2

Canada and USA

Formerly considered part of Clemmys

Graptemys

Map Turtles

12

USA, also Canada

 

Malaclemys

Diamondback Turtle

1

E USA

Endangered in the wild and protected. 

Mauremys

 

8

Europe and Asia

 

Pseudemys

Cooters and Redbelly Turtles

9

USA, also Mexico

 

Terrapene

Box Turtles

4

USA, Mexico

Popular but demanding captives. 

Trachemys

Sliders/ Terrapins

8

Brazil, Caribbean, Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico, USA, Central America, Japan (introduced)

Includes the popular red-eared slider or terrapin. Large number of subspecies, esp. T. scripta, with some confusion over taxonomy.

Bibliography

Turtles and Tortoises of the World, David Alderton, Blandford, London 1999.

Animal Life Encyclopedia Volume 6: Reptiles, Grzimek,1975.

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