Chrysemys picta

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Painted Turtle

Painted Turtle: Chrysemys picta

Classification: Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Reptilia Order: Testudines Family: Emydidae Genus: Chrysemys Species: picta

Description: Painted turtles happen to be the most common of all the turtles in North America. They receive their common name from their distinct red or yellow markings which can be observed on their their lower shells. These endothermic vertebrates are bilateral in symmetry. This species displays sexual dimorphism in which case the female painted turtles are larger in size than the males. While the males have a more depressed dome shell, they can also be distinguished from female painted turtles by their longer tails.

Habitat: This species prefers to inhabit slow moving freshwater and temperate habitats. Such aquatic biomes include streams, lakes and rivers. In the wetlands, the painted turtles can survive in marsh and swamp areas. Often times this species spends its time in vegetative, underwater habitats.

Range: : Painted turtles can range all the way from southern Canada to the northern tip of Mexico. Also, the painted turtle is the only species of turtles that can range across the entire continent of North America.

Ecological Notes: The need to conserve the painted turtles is a major concern mostly because the death toll is high due to being hit by passing vehicles while crossing the streets in search of nesting sites. This turtle is an omnivore that feeds on plants as well as small fish, crayfish and mussels. They mate in the springtime and females lay anywhere from one to eleven eggs. The eggs hatch the following spring.

Personal Information: While at Janette's Pier in North Carolina, we learned on an interactive touch screen that there were different types of painted turtles including the southern, western, eastern and midland painted turtles. An interesting fact about the eastern painted turtles is that it is a basking turtle with a smooth, dark shell and red markings around its bottom edge. At first sign of danger, they retreat back into their aquatic habitat. They are an endangered species that have conservation sites around the coasts.


Journal Articles:

This journal article discusses the nesting ecology and reproductive success within the years ranging from 1975 to 1978 for the painted turtle species. The data presented in this article presents the aftermath effects concluded to their failed success of nesting, including predation, which is most significant.

Donald W. Tinkle, Justin D. Congdon, and Philip C. Rosen 1981. Nesting Frequency and Success: Implications for the Demography of Painted Turtles. Ecology, 62:1426–1432.

In this study, the article focused on the reproduction rates and the connection to the survival and specific sizes of the painted turtles. The conclusion of this article stated that older female painted turtles could increase reproductive output, which was compared to the Blanding's turtles, which could not.

Congdon, J., Nagle, R., Kinney, O., et. al. 2003. Testing hypotheses of aging in long-lived painted turtles(Chrysemys picta). Experimental Gerontology, 38: 765-772.

Contributed by Elizabeth Marinescu- 2014

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