You are here

Painted Turtle

Chrysemys picta
Conservation Status: 
Least Concern
North America
Freshwater habitats like wetlands and lakes

Painted Turtles are named for the bright red and yellow patterns on the bottom of their shell.  They eat many types of food, including plants, algae, bugs, crustaceans, and fish.  As cold-blooded animals, they warm up by resting in a warm basking spot between each dive into water.

Painted Turtles can be found in southern Canada, where they survive the winter by digging into mud underwater.  They can freeze for short periods of time with no heartbeat, muscle movement, or breathing.  They may produce antifreeze chemicals that help them to avoid damage from ice.

Painted turtles lay 6 to 18 eggs per year.  The eggs are food for a wide variety of animals including rats, snakes, and coyotes.  It is estimated that 98% of eggs either do not hatch or are eaten.  For those eggs that hatch successfully, juveniles have a good chance of reaching adulthood.  Males reach maturity at 2 to 8 years old, and females reach maturity at 6 to 16 years old.

Painted Turtles face competition from invasive Red-eared Sliders, which can out-compete for resources like basking space.  They are also commercially trapped for the pet trade in parts of their range.  Ontario has banned the capture of Painted Turtles.  They are currently classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.  They can live over 50 years.