One of the most commonly encountered turtles in Connecticut. The painted turtle is so named because of the brightly colored stripes on the neck and limbs. The carapace is usually a uniform black or dark gray with orange or reddish markings, particularly on the edges of scutes. Plastron is yellow or orangish and can have a dark blotch on the scutes that may be near the midline of the plastron. The limbs are dark gray to black with yellow, orange, red or peach stripes. Males have longer front claws than females. Adult size is 3.5 to 6.5 inches (9 to 17 cm).
Lays clutches of 3 to 9 eggs in May to early June. Eggs hatch by summer’s end and hatchlings may overwinter in the nest (see Klemens 1993).
Freshwater ponds and slow-moving rivers, especially those with large logs or rocks emerging from them. Frequently found in farm ponds or ornamental park ponds (some of these turtles may be escaped captives [see Comment below], but many likely reach these ponds naturally). Usually seen basking in mid-morning and will quickly plop into the water when alarmed.
Feeds mainly on fish, invertebrates and aquatic vegetation.
Widely distributed through the eastern United States and is known from almost every town in Connecticut.
Captive turtles should not be released into the wild or relocated from a natural location to a convenient farm pond. Such actions can cause “genetic pollution” with respect to native populations, and can even introduce diseases to a habitat.
Conant, R. and J.T. Collins. 1991. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 450 pp.
Klemens, M.W. 1993. Amphibians and Reptiles of Connecticut and Adjacent Regions. Hartford, CT: State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut Bulletin 112. 318 pp.
Text by James Sirch and Gregory J. Watkins-Colwell.
Photographs © Twan Leenders. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Animals featured in photographs on this page are from New York and Connecticut.