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Our Terrapins

Terrapins are semi-aquatic reptiles, meaning they spend time in water and on land. They have webbed feet and relatively flat shells, making them well-adapted for swimming in freshwater habitats such as rivers, lakes, and swamps. Unlike sea turtles, terrapins also have the ability to retract their heads and limbs into their shells for protection.


Our terrapins were domesticated and given to us because their previous owners could not take proper care of them. They live at our center full time because they are an invasive species and can therefore not be released back into the wild.

We have one European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis), recognizable by its spotty shell, head, and limbs. These terrapins are found throughout Europe, but their numbers are declining, and they are currently classified as “near threatened.”

One reason is the introduction of non-native terrapins, mostly through the pet trade. Our other terrapins, yellow-bellied sliders (Trachemys scripta), are one example. Originally from southeastern USA, they are larger than the native terrapins, with distinctive yellow stripes, and a yellow or red spot behind their eyes. They outcompete native species for nesting and basking sites. They also have a greater appetite, so they over-consume wildlife and disturb habitats. They may even be responsible for spreading Salmonella to both turtles and humans. By keeping our rescued terrapins here, we’re helping to prevent this.

Seen one in Zakynthos? Let us know here: