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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Reptiles and Amphibians of North Dakota

Western Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta belli)

species distribution map JPG -- Species Photo

Painted turtles are the most widespread turtles throughout the United States. The undersides or plastrons of the painted turtle shells are what give these turtles their name. They are very brightly colored with a large black patch mottled with yellow on a red background. The backs or carapaces of painted turtles vary from black, to greenish or brown, and may contain a few light yellow lines on each plate. Distinctive yellow stripes adorn the head and neck. They are easily recognized while basking in the sun on rocks, stumps, or trees half submerged in water. They are very cautious and dive into the water when threatened.

Their diet includes worms, minnows, and aquatic insects.

Painted turtles mate in the spring and fall. In June or early July females dig nests in the soil with their hind legs, in which they lay 5-15 eggs. The eggs hatch in about 10 weeks.

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