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Painted Turtles

Painted turtles are another species of small turtles found across North America.  The painted turtles get their name from the colorful markings. The turtle's skin is usually dark olive green to black, with red and yellow stripes alongside the legs and neck.  Painted turtles have elongated and smooth carapaces, with yellow plastrons, and can grow up to 10 inches long.  The female of the species is usually bigger, but the male has a thicker tail, and long claws on it's front limbs.

inches (10-25 cm). The carapace is a smooth, flattened oval, and is green to black in color, with red markings in some sub-species. The plastron is generally yellow, sometimes tinged with red, sometimes with a black to reddish-brown figure of varying size and shape. The skin of the painted turtle is black to olive with red and yellow stripes on the neck, legs and tail and yellow stripes on the head.

Like the slider turtle, the painted turtle is mostly aquatic, but still required a dry area for time outs.  The painted turtle must be kept in a larger tank, or pool, and its water must be kept clean.  Painted turtles are also omnivorous, and can be given feeder fish, chicken meat, special food sticks, and lettuce as food.  

Painted turtles are a little more complicated to keep as pets, because of their size and specific habits.  Painted turtles like to sleep in water, or on half submerged objects such as logs and rocks.  They have very specific sun basking habits, and it is believed they do so in order to keep themselves free of parasites and  generate vitamin D.  

For more on the painted turtles, please see Portrait of a Painted Turtle., a very informative web page with several revealing photographs.

All photos on, and linked to from this page: Copyright 2002 John White



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Last modified: December 19, 2004