Balkan Terrapin (Mauremys rivulata)

/ / Reptiles


The Balkan Terrapin will usually grow to a length of 25 cm; the females being larger than the males (1). The head is relatively narrow, stripes run down the centre of the neck and down the sides; although, the stripe along the neck will be narrower (1).

Adults typically have a grey-brown or greenish carapace, the eyes have a dark colouration, the plastron and bridges are usually totally black; in some adults this colouration is limited to the edges of the plate. In juvenile individuals, reticulations (network of lines) are found on the carapace and an overall brown colouration is found with yellowish markings on each plate (1).

The shell has a distinctive central keel; this is best demonstrated in the juveniles. The plastron (flat underside of the shell) is flexible, but rigid in older individuals.

There are approximately six species in the Genus Mauremys; M. leprosa, the Spanish Terrapin is also found in Europe.


Mauremys rivulata is very timid and when disturbed, they will release a musky odour (1).

Life Cycle

The female will lay four to six hard shelled eggs, these eggs are  between 35 to 40 mm by 20 to 30 mm, these hatch into babies of approximately three to 3.5 cm long (1).


The Balkan terrapin can be found up to an altitude of 800 m, although it is more often found as a lowland form. It is found in a wide range of fresh and brackish habitats, it is found in lakes, ponds, marshes and irrigation channels (1).


Within Europe, Mauremys rivulata is found from the Balkan Peninsula north to Montenegro, and south Croatia, Macedonia, southern Bulgaria and Turkey. The Balkan Terrapin can also be found in the Aegean Islands, Asiatic Turkey and east towards Israel (1).


The Balkan Terrapin is mainly carnivorous, feeding largely on invertebrates, amphibians and a variety of fish (1).

Conservation status

Not evaluated under the IUCN Redlist (2).

Listed under Appendix III of BERN Convention (3).


Description written by Ben Harvey (2009)

(1)   Arnold, E.N., 2004. A field guide to the reptiles and amphibians of Britain and Europe. 2nd ed. London: Harper Collins Publishers

(2)   IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.1. <>. Downloaded on 10 July 2009.

(3)   Europe, C.o., 2002. Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats: Bern Convention. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 23 July 2009]