Painted Turtle, Chrysemys picta

Painted Turtle

Chrysemys picta

Excerpted from: Animal Diversity

Painted Turtle
Chrysemys picta
Lifespan 35 to 40 years
Length 5 to 7 inches
Color Orange or yellow stripes on its neck, legs, and tail.
Gestation Period 72 days
Clutch Size 4 to 10 eggs
Diet Feeds mainly on plants, small animals, such as fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects


Painted Turtles are brightly marked. They have a smooth shell about 3-10 inches long. Their shell acts as protection, but since the ribs are fused to the shell, the turtle cannot expand its chest to breathe but must force air in and out of the lungs by alternately contracting the flank and shoulder muscles. The Painted Turtle has a relatively flat upper shell with red and yellow markings on a black or greenish brown background. Males mature at about 3-4 inches plastron length, usually at 3 to 5 years of age. Females at take longer (6 to 10 years) and are larger at maturity. The growth rate, for both sexes is rapid during the first several years of their lives.


Painted Turtles may live as long as 35 to 40 years, but most will not survive for this long.


Painted Turtles bask in large groups on logs, fallen trees, and other objects. The sunning helps rid them of parasitic leeches. In many areas turtles hibernate during the winter months by burrowing into the mud and allowing their bodies to become very cold. Because of their small body size, they can move easily. Turtles dive quickly at the first hint of danger. Painted Turtles are diurnal; that means they are active during the day. At night they will rest on the bottom of a pond or on a partially submerged object, such as a rock. During the day, Painted Turtles will bask in the sun, sometimes as many as 50 on one log, stacked on top of each other.


Sound perception is poor in turtles, but they do have a good sense of smell and color vision. They use touch to communicate with each other, particularly during mating.


Painted Turtles feed mainly on plants, small animals, such as fish, crustaceans, aquatic insects and some carrion. Young Painted Turtles are mainly carnivorous, acquiring a taste for plants later in life. Because they have no teeth, the turtle jaw has tough, horny plates for gripping food. Painted Turtles must eat in the water, their tongue does not move freely and they cannot manipulate food well on land.

Further Reading:

 Beavers — Nature's Hydrologist, Part 2
 Garter Snakes — The Gardener's Friend
 Wisconsin Native Salamanders
 Goundhog or Woochuck: All The Facts
 Voles, Both The Good and The Bad

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