Western Painted Turtle

Western Painted Turtle
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  • Item #: WP-B
 
Scientific Name:  Chrysemys picta bellii

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 yellow, irregular lines and a reddish-orange outer edge. The top stripe present in other subspecies is missing or faint.  The plastron is red-orange with a prominent pattern of black to dark brown markings that follows the scute seams and spreads to the outer edges (further than the midland). The skin is olive to black, with red and yellow stripes along the neck, legs and tail; the head is striped with yellow.
                                                  Western Combo
Range:  Although the subspecies of painted turtle blend together at range boundaries they are distinct within the hearts of their ranges.  The Western ranges from western Ontario to British Columbia south to Missouri, northern Oklahoma, eastern Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and northern Oregon with isolated populations in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Chihuahua, Mexico.

Diet:  Western 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 Western 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 Western 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.  During the winter, the turtle hibernates. In the north, the inactive season may be as long as from October to March, while the southernmost populations may not hibernate at all.  While hibernating, the body temperature of the painted turtle averages 43 °F.   The Western 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 turtle out of hibernation, and even in the north, individuals have been seen basking in February. 
 
 
 

 

 

 

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