Educational Material

Western Pond Turtle:

Natural History


Educational Material


Educational Material

Do you know your local turtle? How can you help western pond turtles? What should you do if you find a western pond turtle? This is your one-stop-shop for all western pond turtle educational material, including the Field Guide to the Western Pond Turtle and the new, free!, Western Pond Turtle Brochure. Check back often as the list of western pond turtle educational resources evolves.

Western Pond Turtle Brochure (free)

Responding to an inquiry from a San Francisco Bay Area resident this year who stumbled across a western pond turtle at her front door – just one example of the regular inquiries wildlife rescue centers and wildlife biologists field on a daily basis from well-meaning citizens who don’t know what to do when they see a turtle crossing the road or ambling through their rose garden – I recognized the need for a simple public outreach tool: an educational brochure.

Click here to download brochure (468 KB .pdf)

This full-color, tri-fold brochure describes our local turtle, describes what to do if you find a turtle, and provides guidance to private landowners and public land managers alike on the best ways to protect and conserve western pond turtles through proactive land stewardship. My goal with this project is to distribute a tool to the public that provides consistent guidance: protect and conserve suitable aquatic and nesting habitat, curb invasive species, and leave healthy turtles in the wild where they belong.

And it’s free! So download the .pdf, print, and distribute.

I encourage wildlife rescue/rehabilitation centers, state and federal agencies, parks and refuges, land trusts, and wildlife biologists to share this resource with the public. If readers drop me a Comment (below) with their organization’s name to let me know they wish to print and distribute this brochure, I’ll create a register with links to the participating parties’ websites.

Field Guide to the Western Pond Turtle

The western pond turtle, the sole turtle native to the Pacific Coast’s rivers, creeks, and ponds, is an ofttimes reclusive reptile whose first line of defense – plunging kersplunk to watery depths – makes it difficult to appreciate this species except from afar.

So what better way to learn more about the species than with the new Field Guide to the Western Pond Turtle, a diagnostic poster that draws the shy western pond turtle out of its shell. Each figure is annotated for the professional and layperson alike, making it easy to familiarize yourself with the western pond turtle’s general field markings and the traits that distinguish males and females.

Created by myself and illustrated with photos by my wife, Bay Area photographer Sarah Anne Bettelheim together with antiquarian engravings dating to the turn of the twentieth century, this visual field guide takes field guides to new heights. This poster is printed on heavyweight 7 mil semi-gloss paper using superior dye inks and is available in two sizes – 16 x 20 in. (small) or 23 x 35 in. (large) – making it perfect for the classroom, home, or office.

Posters can be purchased through CafePress.

  1. #1 by Eric Ettlinger on October 18, 2011 - 9:32 am

    What a great site with fantastic materials! These will be so useful for the Marin Municipal Water District’s volunteer Turtle Observers.

  2. #2 by Don McEnhill on June 14, 2013 - 10:49 am


    Thank you for the resource materials on Western Pond Turtles. We are using them for a Wildlife Spotlight on WPT in our summer newsletter. Ever since I heard Nick Geist at SSU, a WPT researcher I have been using pictures of the WPT in the Russian River with the elementary students we work with on our education projects and believe it or not they rank almost as cool as river otters. The kids just light up when I show them pictures and have a pile of questions and they are totally engaged.
    As a kid growing up on the river have many fond memories or swimming up underneath logs and catching the turtles when the jumped off and then releasing them as my parents were smart about nature and always told us to leave wild things in the wild.

    Thanks again for being an advocate of the Western Pond Turtle!
    Don McEnhill
    Russian Riverkeeper

    • #3 by Matthew Bettelheim on June 14, 2013 - 11:01 am

      Thanks Don, I appreciate the feedback. It’s good to hear from other WPT advocates; keep up the good work!


  3. #4 by sgardner on June 1, 2016 - 11:13 am

    Hi Matthew,
    Thank you for the wonderful information on the WPT. I would love to put a link to your PDF on our Friends of the Napa River website: We are looking forward to your talk at the Napa Library next week!
    Shari Gardner
    Friends of the Napa River

  1. Why Did the Turtle Cross the Road? | (bio)accumulation
  2. The Pond Turtle in the Pool | (bio)accumulation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s