The pond turtle has returned to Ponidzie

The pond turtle has returned to Ponidzie

Pond turtles disappeared from our landscape decades ago, but soon the sight of these reptiles in the wild should not surprise anyone.

Scientists at the Umianowice Nature Center are working to restore their population in the region. They could still be found in the 1990s. Unfortunately, through the activities of predators and man, they have become extinct in the area.

As Dariusz Wiech of the Complex of Świętokrzyskie and Nadnidziańskie Landscape Parks reminds us, last December 50 baby turtles were brought to the nature center in Umianowice, which came there from Polesie National Park. Since their arrival, the turtles have been under constant vet supervision and have already grown almost fourfold.

“Our record holder was able to achieve a weight of 36 grams at that time, when he weighed just 7 grams at the time of weighing, shortly after arriving at the facility. We try to make the food for turtles very diverse. It is mainly made up of fish, but we must also pay attention to make sure it is rich in vitamin A, which is necessary for proper development” he explains.

In order to create suitable living conditions for the animals, naturalists carried out a series of hydrological works to restore the wetland character of the meadows near Umianowice. This work was carried out as part of the “Life 4 Delta” project completed several months ago.

“A pond has been dug, in which various species of plants have been planted, including, among others, Elodea. It will become a habitat for the turtles in the next stage of their lives, where they will acquire food on their own without human interference and the threat of predators. We also designed and built a special island with direct access to the water, so as to create the best possible conditions for reproduction,” he stresses.

The turtles are likely to be released into the wild in September. Another 100 baby turtles will be delivered to the Umianowice facility in the fall. Naturalists hope that the measures taken will help restore the pond turtle population in Ponidzie.

The pond turtle is the only species of turtle that lives naturally in Poland. It is a lowland reptile, and its habitat is water, which is only left by females to lay eggs. It inhabits small, overgrown lakes, forest ponds, marshes, densely overgrown and hard-to-reach oxbow lakes and slow-flowing rivers with dense vegetation. It is a carnivore, hunting and feeding exclusively underwater. It eats aquatic insects and their larvae, snails, clams, tadpoles, frogs, small fish. It spends most of its time in the water, but breathes atmospheric air through its lungs. The pond turtle can stay under the surface of the water for up to one hour. It overwinters buried deep in the silt at the bottom of a body of water for about five months. It wakes up from its sleep in April or May, depending on the weather.

Source: Radio Kielce

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