Monday, May 25, 2009

Painted Turtle

This is the Western Painted Turtle. They are a brightly colored turtle, that is very commonly seen in Missouri. They grow to around 6 to 8 inches. Most individuals are found when they are quite small usually around 2 to 4 inches. Their shell is olive-brown or may sometimes be nearly black. The underside or plastron portion of the shell is orange-yellow; orange; or red. The exposed skin will be olive green with varying patterns of yellow streaked throughout. This vibrant coloration is where they get their common name of painted turtle. Adult males will have longer thicker tails than females, and will also have longer foreclaws. These turtles are active during the day and will seek small bodies of water such as ponds in which to sleep during the night. During the day they are often spotted basking in the sun on top of logs in the water or along the shoreline. They will hunt for aquatic crayfish, snails, insects, small fish and plants on which to feed. Mating occurs in the spring usually from April - June. After breeding, the female will dig out shallow nests in the ground near water and lay her eggs. After hatching in about 8 to 9 weeks the tiny (approximately 1 1/4 inches) young painted turtles will head to water. These turtles have a lot of obstacles in the wild, not only are they commonly sought after in the pet trade for their relatively easy care and beautiful colors. They are also preyed upon by a wide variety of wild animals, including skunks, raccoons, crows, mink, muskrat, badger, fox, snakes, and other turtles to name but a few of the known predators. It is always a pleasure while out walking to come across these pretty little turtles, basking in the sun, or floating on top the water.

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