Headstarting in European pond turtles (Emys orbicularis): Does it work?

  • Published source details Mitrus S. (2005) Headstarting in European pond turtles (Emys orbicularis): Does it work?. Amphibia-Reptilia, 26, 333-341.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Head-start wild-caught reptiles for release: Tortoises, terrapins, side-necked & softshell turtles

Action Link
Reptile Conservation
  1. Head-start wild-caught reptiles for release: Tortoises, terrapins, side-necked & softshell turtles

    A replicated, controlled study in 1997–2002 in wetlands in Borowiec Nature Reserve, central Poland (Mitrus 2005) found that released head-started European pond turtles Emys orbicularis had similar survival compared to wild turtles. Annual survival was similar for head-started (1-year-olds: 21–35%; 2-year-olds: 43–70%; 3-year-olds: 44%) and wild-caught turtles (Hatchlings: 5–25%; 1-year-olds:  64–46% and 0–100%; 2-year-olds: 100%). In 1997–2000, nesting females were monitored, and during September, hatchlings and eggs from 3–13 clutches/year were removed for head-starting. They were raised in groups of 10–15 (40 x 50 cm aquarium; water temperature 20°C) and fed live insect and earthworm prey. Head-started individuals were marked released at one year of age (69 in 1998; 34 in 1999; 20 in 2000). Turtles were monitored by capturing with a dip net and baited traps from April–August and any wild turtles were marked.   

    (Summarised by: Maggie Watson, William Morgan)

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