Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)

Identification: The low, smooth carapace is black or olive, with red markings along or under the margins. Plastron yellow or orange with dark central blotch or figure. Head yellow striped, neck and limbs red or yellow striped.

Painted Turtle
Photo © Jim Harding

Adult carapace length: 4 to 9.8 inches (10 to 25 cm).

Habitat: Prefer shallow, weedy waters with mud bottom (ponds, lakes, marshes).

Habits: Much time spent basking; may move over land to find new habitat or nest site. They eat aquatic plants and seeds, insects, snails, tadpoles, carrion, etc.

Reproduction: Males have very long front claws, used to tickle females during courtship. Females nest late May to early July; 4 to 20 elliptical, soft shelled eggs are buried in sunny spot. Incubation takes 70 to 80 days, but hatchlings will often spend the winter in the nest and emerge in spring.

Range and Status: Common statewide. Midland Painted turtle (Chrysemys picta marginata) in Lower Peninsula has narrow plastral blotch. Western Painted turtle (C. p. belli), with expanded plastral blotch, intergrades with Midland throughout the Upper Peninsula.

Related Documents
Painted Turtle Occurrences Map PDF icon