These turtles are best known for their ‘painted’ bodies. They have yellow stripes on their arms, legs, and neck as well as red stripes on the underside of their shells. These bright markings warn predators not to eat this turtle. Painted turtles are one of the smaller turtles, their green and brown shell measures only 15 to 25 centimetres in length.
Range & Habitat
You can find painted turtles just about anywhere in fresh water habitat in southern Canada, the U.S.A., and even in Northern Mexico. The ideal habitat for these turtles are slow moving lakes and streams that have great basking sites, like logs and rocks.
Diet & Behaviour
They like to eat a variety of plants and animals ranging from snails and insects to algae and aquatic plants. They have also been known to snack on dead animals if one is found near their home. Painted turtles are famous for their basking behaviour, at times pilling on top of each other in the early morning to warm in the suns rays. They do this to warm their body after a night of sleeping on the pond floor and also receive vitamin D3 from the sun. During the winter they burrow into the mud and remain dormant until the spring.
Lifecycle & Threats
From March to June you can see these turtles be openly affectionate to each other. The males will caress the female’s neck and arms and if the female likes the attention she too will caress the male. This is all part of the mating season. Eggs are laid in sandy sites along the lakes shores. After two and a half months, the brightly coloured hatchlings are free to explore their new environment. Runoff from pesticides and chemical fertilizers continue to threaten the painted turtle’s survival. These turtles are also a common pet and have been collected from the wild for commercial purposes.
COSEWIC: Not at Risk
Photo: Mark L Watson