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Painted Turtle

Chrysemys picta

Notes:

is the only species of Chrysemys, a genus of Emydidae: the pond turtle family. It lives in slow-moving fresh waters, from southern Canada to Louisiana and northern Mexico, and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. Fossils show that the painted turtle existed 15 million years ago, but four regionally based subspecies (the eastern, midland, southern, and western) evolved during the last ice age. The adult female is 10–25 cm (4–10 in) long and weighs 300–500 g (11–18 oz); the male is smaller. The turtle's shell is smooth, oval, and flat-bottomed. Its skin is olive to black with red, orange, or yellow stripes on its extremities. The painted turtle eats aquatic vegetation, algae, and small water creatures including insects, crustaceans, and fish. Although they are frequently consumed as eggs or hatchlings by rodents, canines, and snakes, the adult turtles' hard shells protect them from most predators except alligators and raccoons. Reliant on warmth from its surroundings, the painted turtle is active only during the day when it basks for hours on logs or rocks. During winter, the turtle hibernates, usually in the muddy bottoms of waterways. The turtles mate in spring and autumn; between late spring and mid-summer females dig nests on land and lay their eggs. Hatched turtles grow until sexual maturity: 2–9 years for males, 6–16 for females. Adults in the wild can live for more than 55 years. In the traditional tales of Algonquian tribes, the colorful turtle played the part of a trickster. In modern times, the painted turtle has become the United States' second most popular pet turtle, although trapping is increasingly restricted. Habitat loss and road killings have reduced the turtle's population, but its ability to live in human-disturbed settings has helped it remain the most abundant turtle in North America. Only in Oregon and British Columbia is its range in danger of being encroached upon. Perhaps because it is so widespread, four U.S. states name the painted turtle as their official reptile.

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TracyL
Spotted by
TracyL

Texas, USA

Spotted on May 29, 2011
Submitted on May 29, 2011

Spotted for Mission

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