Mauremys japonica

Japanese Pond Turtle
Ishi-game (Stone Turtle)

Photo by John Congdon

Mauremys japonica is basically brown all over although the head may be lighter with darker spots on the jaw and sides. There may be a keel which may or may not have a light colored stripe. The posterior marginals will be heavily serrated. The carapace may feature clear growth annuli and may also have a subtle pattern of radiating striae. There is a notch in the plastron. Some larger females can reach 7" in straight line carapace length, but most will tend to be smaller, 5-6".

Strong swimmers, they inhabit flowing streams, rivers, canals and other bodies of water in Japan. M. japonica is semi-aquatic, requiring an aquarium with a land area. They need a dry basking area with a warming light. A UV-B radiation reptile light may provide additional physiological and psychological benefits. M. japonica is a temperate species, so a water heater is not required if the turtle is housed indoors, but the basking area should be warmed to about 80-85F or so by the warming light. These are active turtles that will appreciate as much space as possible, both in the water and out. In mild, temperate to subtropical regions, these turtles would enjoy an outdoor habitat with a pond, at least for part of the year. (Outdoor enclosures must be secure from predators such as dogs or raccoons.) Water must be kept well filtered. This species tends to be quite hardy in captivity and will breed readily, if kept in a good environment.

This species is omnivorous with a leaning toward carnivory. Worms, insects, snails, shrimp, feeder fish, cat or dog food kibble, etc. could all be used as part of a varied diet. Also provide aquatic plants, and other greens, vegetables, and occasional fruits. This species will accept floating turtle food pellets formulated for aquatic turtles. Provide a source of calcium, such as cuttlebone or boiled eggshells.

Additional photos of M. japonica
Turtles of Japan
WCT gallery of Mauremys species

Ernst, C. H. and Barbour, R. W. 1989. Turtles of the World. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

Highfield, A. C. 1996. Practical Encyclopedia of Keeping and Breeding Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles. Carapace Press, London, England.

Pritchard, P. C. H. 1979. Encyclopedia of Turtles. TFH Publications, Neptune, New Jersey.

© Mary Hopson, Anchorage, AK
This information sheet may be freely copied and distributed.

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