Eastern Painted Turtle

Eastern Painted Turtle
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  • Item #: EP

 

Scientific Name:  Chrysemys picta picta

Eastern Painteds are a beautiful turtle loaded with personality.  They have a comical side and  watching them interact with each other is like watching an episode of the Three Stooges.  Like the Midland, they are mid-sized painteds.  Males can attain a length of 4 - 6" while females can reach anywhere from 6 - 8".
                                                                         
Identification:  The carapace is smooth, oval & flattened with no keel.  The general color of the carapace is olive, olive brown, or nearly black; usually there are red bars or crescents on each of the larger scutes. Some Eastern Painteds will have a narrow stripe running down the middle of the carapace, from just behind the head to above the tail, if it is present at all. This stripe is more noticeable in some individuals, while difficult to see in others. The ends of the back of the carapace are smooth, not serrated. The scutes of the carapace have pale leading edges and occur in straight rows across the back, unlike all other North American turtles, including the other three subspecies of painted turtle, which have alternating scutes. The plastron is patternless and yellow-to-cream in color. Eastern ComboSome individuals may have a blotch which is black or red. The presence, size, color and shape of this blotch varies between individuals. Most have no markings at all.

Range:  Although the subspecies of painted turtle blend together at range boundaries they are distinct within the hearts of their ranges.  The Eastern ranges from Southeastern Canada through the New England and Atlantic coastal states, down to Georgia and west into east Alabama.

Diet:  Eastern Painteds are omnivorous with the strong preference for being carnivores.  In captivity, they do well on Mazuri and ReptoMin, Reptile/Pond 10, Cichlid Sticks, feeder fish, occasional ghost shrimp, aquatic plants (such as Water Lilies, Water Hyacinth, Duckweed, Anachris, Water Lettuce, Water Fern, Pondweed, Water starwort, Hornwort, Water milfoil, and Frogbit), veggies (such as Zucchini, Squash, Collard Greens, Beet Leaves, Endive, Romaine, Red Leaf Lettuce, Kale, Escarole, Mustard Greens & Dandelions) and some fruits, crickets, meal worms and blood worms.

Females and males can be distinguished visually based on differences in overall size, length and size of tail, length of foreclaws, and position of their anal opening (cloaca). Females 1) are larger than males; 2) have a thin, short tail and shorter foreclaws; and 3) have a cloaca that is located under the rear margin of the carapace. Males 1) are smaller than females; 2) have a thicker, longer tail and longer foreclaws; and 3) have a cloaca that is posterior to the rear margin of the carapace.
A cold-blooded reptile, the Eastern Painted turtle regulates its temperature through its environment, notably by basking. All ages bask for warmth, often alongside other species of turtles.  As many as 50 turtles have been observed on a single log, often stacked atop each other in several layers.  In captivity, it is crucial for the tank setup to include a basking site where the turtle can get completely dry and bask under lighting that includes not only warmth, but also both UVA and UVB.  The heat helps maintain the preferred body temperature. The  ultraviolet helps eliminate skin parasites and is essential for the synthesis of vitamin D3.  UVB emissions help prevent or reverse metabolic bone disease and UVA increases feeding, mating, and other natural behaviors.
In the wild, the Eastern Painted turtle starts its day at sunrise, emerging from the water to bask for several hours. Warmed for activity, it returns to the water to forage.  After becoming chilled, the turtle re-emerges for one to two more cycles of basking and feeding.   At night, the turtle drops to the bottom of its water body or perches on an underwater object and sleeps.  In the spring, when the water reaches 59–64 °F, the turtle begins actively foraging. However, if the water temperature exceeds 86 °F, the turtle will not feed.  It is not uncommon for adult Painted Turtles to go a period of 2-3 weeks without eating, provided that they are active and otherwise showing no signs of illness.   In fall, the turtle stops foraging when temperatures drop below the spring set-point.  In the north during the winter, the turtle hibernates.  The inactive season may be as long as from October to March, while the southernmost populations may not hibernate at all.   The Eastern Painted painted turtle hibernates by burying itself on the bottom of a body of water, or in woods or pastures. When hibernating underwater, the turtle prefers shallow depths, no more than 7 ft.   Within the mud, it may dig down up to an additional 3 ft.  In this state, the turtle does not breathe, although if surroundings allow, it may get some oxygen through its skin.  Periods of warm weather bring the turtles out of hibernation, and even in the north, individuals have been seen basking in February. 
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