Painted Turtle / Tortue peinte
As its name implies, the Painted Turtle is a colourful animal.It has an olive to black
carapace with red markings on
the marginal scutes and yellow
stripes on the head and neck. The carapace is broad, smooth and flat. There are three
subspecies in Canada. The Eastern Painted Turtle (C. p.
picta) has an unmarked yellow
plastron. This is the only turtle in which the large scutes of the carapace are
in more or less straight rows across the back. The Midland
Painted Turtle (C. p. marginata) has a yellow plastron with a darker
irregular figure along the midline. On the Western Painted Turtle
(C. p. belli) the plastron has a dark figure made up of distinct wavy lines or
reticulations. The Western subspecies is larger than the other two reaching up to
25 cm carapace length.
Although the shape is similar to the larger
Northern Map Turtle that species is not nearly as colourful as the Painted Turtle
and the rear of the carapace is serrated.
The Painted Turtle is found across southern Canada from Nova Scotia to British Columbia
although it is found in very few localities on the prairies.It occurs throughout
much of the eastern and midwestern United States with scattered populations in the
Painted Turtles inhabit ponds, marshes, lakes and creeks with slow moving water.
They prefer waterbodies with a soft bottom, abundant basking sites and aquatic
Individuals in northern populations may take up to five years to reach sexual maturity.
Nesting takes place from late May to early July. A single clutch of up to 23 eggs is
laid depending on the subspecies.
dug in loamy or sandy soil in sunny areas. Hatchlings may emerge in the fall but
usually overwinter in the nest and emerge the following spring.They can survive
temperatures as low as -9oC. Painted Turtles have temperature-dependent
Painted Turtles are commonly seen basking on logs, rocks or shorelines with easy
access to the water. Several animals are often seen basking together.Individuals
sometimes move long distances overland from one water body to another or in search
of nesting sites. They are opportunistic feeders and eat algae, invertebrates,
fish, frogs and carrion. Hibernation occurs on the bottom of waterbodies. Some
individuals live for 30-40 years in nature.
Painted Turtles are abundant throughout much of their range.However, nesting females
are vulnerable to traffic mortality because they often search road sides for suitable
nest sites. The Pacific Coast population of the Painted Turtle in southwestern
British Columbia (Vancouver Island and the Fraser River Valley) has been designated
Endangered by COSEWIC because
of extensive habitat loss. The Intermountain - Rocky Mountain population in eastern
BC has been designated Special Concern because of habitat loss.