Japanese Pond Turtle: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Japanese pond turtle facts also include that these semiaquatic turtles are valiant swimmers.

Nihon ishigame (in Japanese) also known as 'Japanese pond turtle' or 'Japanese stone turtle' is an aquatic turtle that lives in the fresh fast-flowing water of different Japanese ponds, rivers, lakes, and also in some of the irrigation ditches and canals and they also have basking area near rocks. Kyushu, Shikoku, and Honshu are famous islands where these turtles are found in general. They hibernate themselves at the bottom of the water body and can breathe with the help of their tail. These turtles can live on both, water food or land food such as frogs, fish, shrimp, crabs, aquatic insects, earthworms, and also lemon, lettuce, green bean, and green pepper. The Japanese pond turtle's diet can be easily satisfied by turtle food. Adult females are larger in weight than male turtles which can have a length of 6-8 in (15.2-20.3 cm). They have a dark brown or yellowish-brown carapace and an olive-brown head. The Japanese pond turtles are common pets in Japan because of their adorable physical description. The Japanese pond turtles are hybridized with Chinese pond turtles, Chinese striped-neck turtles, and Chinese box turtles in captivity.

The Japanese pond turtle is from the Geoemydidae family endemic to Japan and the superfamily is 'Testudinoidea'. They aren't wild in nature much. In Japan, it is a very common pet for an aquatic turtle to be kept in an aquarium.  

There are a lot of animals that prey on turtles such as skunks, weasels, and other turtles like snapping turtles. In the sea, there are bigger predators such as whales and sharks that prey on turtles commonly near the sea. For more relatable content, check out these box turtle facts and softshell turtle facts for kids.

Japanese Pond Turtle

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Frogs, larvae, fish, shrimp, crabs

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

3-8 eggs per clutch

How much do they weigh?

1-2.4 lb (0.5-1 kg)

How long are they?

6-8 in (15.2-20.3 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Yellowish and dark brown

Skin Type

Smooth skin

What are their main threats?

Skunks, raccoons, gulls, foxes, other carnivore mammals

What is their conservation status?

Near Threatened

Where you'll find them

Swamps, marshes, irrigated rice paddies, ponds, lakes, rivers


Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu





Scientific Name

Mauremys japonica





Japanese Pond Turtle Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Japanese pond turtle?

Japanese pond turtles (Mauremys japonica) are the species of aquatic turtles found in Japanese ponds, rivers, and lakes and are also known as stone turtles with a carapace of size 7-9 in (17.8-22.9 cm).

What class of animal does a Japanese pond turtle belong to?

Japanese pond turtles are reptiles also said to be amniotes. These are aquatic turtles that can swim and thus are wary reptiles and they feed themselves with pond and land foods.

How many Japanese pond turtles are there in the world?

There are a number of pond turtles present in the world such as the yellow-bellied slider, African side-neck turtle,  box turtle, map turtle, and more. While the total count of these aquatic turtles of Japanese pond turtles has decreased but the animals are not extinct yet thus, are Near Threatened.

Where does a Japanese pond turtle live?

The Japanese pond turtles are endemic to Japan and are generally found in islands of Kyushu, Shikoku, and Honshu. They are also kept as pets in aquariums.

What is a Japanese pond turtle's habitat?

The Japanese yellow pond turtle living in the wild can be found near the ponds and streams. The Japanese pond turtles are fast swimmers of fast-flowing water of rivers and lakes. These turtles can also be found in aquariums in Japan as pets. The turtles also live in streams man-made irrigation ditches and canals. They can also be kept in aquariums but with a water pump and water filter at the bottom. They can share the basking area with other species of animals or other turtles.

Who do Japanese pond turtles live with?

They live near the pond and river in packs. They are also good pets and thus can live with humans too. They generally eat up the fishes and the aquatic plants that are present in the aquarium or in water bodies but few species which are comfortable with these turtles are fish such as zebrafish, yellow fish, and tetra fish. These Japanese pond turtles are not very aggressive thus can share the land area with other animals. But can be upset because of other species of turtles present near their habitat.

How long does a Japanese pond turtle live?

The Japanese pond turtle age can vary from 20-40 years.

How do they reproduce?

The mating time of these stone turtles is from September to April on average. Then these turtles lay four clutches of eggs per year, with each clutch consisting of three to eight eggs depending on the size of the turtle.

What is their conservation status?

There are a number of pond turtles in the world where 10,000 to one million individual pond turtles are present in the world. Whereas the Japanese pond turtles have somehow decreased in overall population but it's not yet on the extinct list. So we can say that proper Japanese pond turtle care is needed to save them from extinction in the near future as they are Near Threatened species.

Japanese Pond Turtle Fun Facts

What do Japanese pond turtles look like?

The Japanese pond turtles are of moderate size, the females being larger than the males. The shell or carapace is light yellowish-brown to dark brown having different shades of brown. The shells have a ridge that is serrated at the back end. The male turtles have longer tails than the feminine ones.

Japanese pond turtles have a wonderful yellowish carapace on their back and a tiny tail.

How cute are they?

As per the description of Japanese pond turtles, they are small and cute creatures and are a popular choice as pet turtles in Japan. It's likely you'll find them sweet.

How do they communicate?

The Japanese pond turtles touch each other's faces like they are kissing (like humans) in essence to communicate and in the initial stage of mating.

How big is a Japanese pond turtle?

In a stone turtle, the shell or carapace length of the adult female is bigger than the male ones, that is 7-9 in (17.8-22.9 cm). This turtle is half the size of a snapping turtle.

How fast can a Japanese pond turtle move?

The Japanese pond turtle speed of swimming is very fast as this turtle can easily swim in the fast-flowing water of the rivers and lakes. They are commonly found in the island areas of Japan.

How much does a Japanese pond turtle weigh?

In an adult Japanese pond turtle, the female turtle is heavier than the male. The average weight of a female turtle is 1.7 lb (0.8 kg) and the average weight of the male turtle is 0.4 lb (0.2 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The Japanese pond turtle (Mauremys japonica ) is also called Nihon ishigame in Japanese but has no separate names for males and females. The male turtle has longer tails than the females.

What would you call a baby Japanese pond turtle?

These aquatic turtles or the Japanese baby pond turtle (Mauremys japonica) of the family Geoemydidae found in the land and water around the pond can be called hatchlings.

What do they eat?

The Japanese pond turtle diet would be both land and water food, that is the water food like shrimps, fishes, larvae, adult frogs, earthworms, insects, crabs, and crayfish. They can also easily be fed with commercial turtle food and these turtles are easily maintained on feeds like green beans, lettuce, water weeds.

Are they dangerous?

The Japanese pond turtles are the same as other turtles, they eat their turtle food and come to the land area from the water to greet their owner. But they are quite aggressive when they eat, they can bite their finger if disturbed during eating. They can share the land area with other turtles of their species but can get upset with other species of turtles. It can also eat up the fish or aquatic plants in the aquarium as it is the basic nature of the turtle diet.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, they could be good pets. In Japan, there are many cases of these turtles living in a habitat as a pet, the aquarium with other species like fishes or something. But the aquarium must be filled with aquarium gravel at the bottom and have an air pump, a water pump to move water frequently and to clean it.

Also, the water filter cleans the water from time to time. These species are very friendly in nature. The Japanese pond turtle diet is easily maintained with crabs, crayfish, fishes, turtle food, lettuce, and green beans.

Did you know...

The Japanese pond turtles are 'Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination' (TSD) animals where these species of animals can favor female turtles in higher temperature and male turtles in lower temperature.

Why is the Japanese pond turtle significant to Japan?

The Japanese pond turtles are significant to Japan because they consider turtles to be a symbol of longevity and good fortune as they are tough animals living long lives. The turtles are even kept in many temples and shrines in Japan.

What fish pairs well with Japanese pond turtles?

Generally, the Japanese pond turtles prey on fishes and aquatic plants but there are few such fishes that work well with this animal; those are tetra fish, yellow tang fish, and zebrafish.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our painted turtle fun facts and bog turtle interesting facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Japanese pond turtle coloring pages.



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