Extremely rare albino pond turtle discovered in Tarragona

AN extremely rare albino specimen of the endangered Spanish pond turtle has been discovered in the Catalonian municipality of Tarragona

A resident of the Catalonian city of Tarragona contacted the rural police this weekend, to report the discovery in Terra Alta of a very small white turtle hatchling, which subsequently led to the conclusion that the creature was in fact a rare specimen of a leprous Spanish pond turtle (mauremys leprosa) – also known as the Mediterranean pond turtle – an indigenous species that is in danger of extinction in this country.

This was an exceptional find, due to the fact that it was an albino leprous turtle, one of the native semiaquatic tortoise species of the Iberian Peninsula, yet lacking any skin pigmentation in both the eyes and the skin, a condition which is extremely rare, but sometimes it happens, thanks to genetic mutations.

A lack of pigmentation can lead to problems, due to a lack of melanin in the body, which, as the rural officers pointed out, must not be confused with Leucism, which only entails a lack of pigmentation in the skin.

The species is in danger of extinction, due to the degradation of the environment in which it lives, and more so, due to its capture as a pet, and also the threat of other non-native species introduced into the peninsula by humans.

Leprous pond turtles live in freshwater bodies and can be found not only in the Iberian Peninsula, but also in Portugal, southern France, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, and surprisingly, it is carnivorous, and feeds on other animals such as frogs, snails, insects, small crustaceans, fish, and leeches, although it can also feed on substances of plant origin, usually living in the water, but sometimes coming out to sunbathe, though rarely to investigate the terrain.

This rare albino specimen of the leprous pond turtle is now in the Canal Vell Wildlife Centre which was created 35 years ago in a former agricultural and livestock farm, and is dedicated, among other tasks, to the rehabilitation of wild fauna, located in the Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park, on the edge of one of the most important lagoons in the area, as reported by lavanguardia.com.


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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com