Chrysemys picta: Painted Turtle


Painted turtles are medium-sized turtles with a shell length of 4 to 10 inches. Females tend to be larger than males, but males have longer foreclaws and longer thicker tails than females do. As suggested by their name, painted turtles are ornately coloured throughout their body; they have black to olive skin with red and yellow stripes. Their lower shells are mostly yellow with varying shapes and sizes of other colors, like red, black, and/or reddish-brown. They have smooth, flattened, and oval upper shells ranging from green to black. They can be found throughout the entire United States and are the most widely distributed North American turtle and spend most of their time either basking during the day or sleeping on pond bottoms during the night. Most often live in slow-moving shallow waters of ponds, marshes, creeks, and lakes with soft muddy vegetative bottoms and suitable basking sites.

When young painted turtles are captured by largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), they can often times thrash and claw inside its mouth to the point of being released by the fish. As many as 50 painted turtles have been seen basking on a single log! Sometime between late May to mid-July, females dig a flask-shaped nest near water in slightly moist or sandy soil at sunny spots. Around 2 to 20 eggs are laid and, after around 76 days, the young hatch out of their eggs using a small egg tooth atop their beaks. Young are born with more vibrant markings than adults. Younger painted turtles feed on a wide range of small animals, including crayfish, tadpoles, snails, slugs, insects, small fish, and dead animals. Older painted turtles tend to feed more so on aquatic plants.

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