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Two Eastern Painted Turtles on reeds and lily pad stalks. Nature photography by Bob Orsillo
Eastern Painted Turtle (named 1783)
Males: 13.0–16.5 cm (5.1–6.5 in), Females: 14.3–17.1 cm (5.6–6.7 in)
Scutes of carapace in straight rows
Front edges of large scutes form bands across carapace (aligned)
Two bright yellow spots on each side of the head
Plain yellow or yellow-orange plastron may have one or two small dark spots
Range: Nova Scotia to Georgia, intergrading with the Midland in much of the Northeast
The painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) is a reptile common to southern Canada, the United States, and northern Mexico. It is related to other American freshwater turtles such as the sliders, the cooters and the map turtles. The painted turtle lives in ponds, lakes and marshes, and in slow-moving rivers that have soft, muddy bottoms. The maximum carapace (shell) length for this species is 25 cm (10 in). The shell is a defensive feature used to protect it from predators.
The skin of an adult painted turtle's head, neck, feet, tail, and carapace-edge (marginal) scutes have a red and yellow striped design that makes it appear as though it had been hand-painted. The plastron, depending on the subspecies, can be entirely yellowish or yellowish-orange, mostly yellowish with a dark pattern in the center, or may have a bold, elaborate pattern of yellow, orange, red and dark gray. The background skin tone of the turtle varies from olive green to solid black. The Painted turtle is the only species in the genus Chrysemys. It comprises four subspecies: the Eastern, Southern, Midland, and Western painted turtle. The only subspecies of painted turtle that has a stripe on its back is the Southern painted turtle.
The painted turtle is the official reptile of the U.S. states of Colorado (specifically the Western painted turtle) and Michigan.
August 3rd, 2010
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