Midland Painted Turtle

Scientific Name: Chrysemys picta marginata

Painted turtles have a very distinctive olive to black upper shell (carapace) with dark red or orange markings on the marginal scutes (enlarged scales along sides of shell).  They also have red and yellow stripes on the head and neck.  The carapace is broad, smooth and flat, and they generally reach a length of 12-14cm.  In Ontario, there are two subspecies of painted turtles: western and midland.  However, in Dundas, there is only the midland painted turtle.  It has a yellow or dark tan plastron (lower shell) with a darker, irregular “butterfly” marking along the mid-line.  The western painted turtle is found in northern regions of the province, near Lake Superior.

The painted turtle is everyone’s picture of a classic turtle: the small reptile sunning itself on a log with some friends in the middle of a quiet stream, pond, or tributary.  During the winter months, this animal hibernates on the bottom of the water.  Painted turtles are diurnal (active during the day), eating anything from algae/vegetation to frogs and small invertebrates.

Living between 30-40 years in the wild, painted turtles cannot lay eggs until they are five years old.  At this point, anywhere from three to fourteen elliptical creamy white eggs are laid.  The eggs are deposited in late spring, and generally hatch in early fall, but they are capable of hatching the following spring due to the presence of an anti-freeze-like substance in their body that keeps them preserved in temperatures as low as -9ºC.


Facts are from Ontario Nature and the Ontario Turtle Conservation Center.
Photos are courtesy of DTW volunteers.