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Western Painted Turtle

western painted turtle

Western painted turtle sunning itself on a log.

Wisconsin status: common

There are two subspecies of painted turtle in Wisconsin. One is found in the extreme northwest and western parts of the state. It is called the western painted turtle. The other is found in the far southeastern part of Wisconsin and is known as the painted turtle. In the rest of the state these turtles interbreed and you can't tell them apart. So most people just call them painted turtles.

This is the range map for the western painted turtle.  They are common throughout Wisconsin.

Painted turtles are the most common turtle in Wisconsin. You can find them in marshes, ponds, shallow bays in lakes and even in the backwaters of some rivers.

You will recognize a western painted turtle by its fairly smooth, ridgeless carapace (top shell). The rear edge of the shell doesn't have any serrations (isn't jagged).

The western painted turtle carapace is dark green to black. Its plastron (bottom shell) is usually light orange to reddish with a kind of "oak leaf" shaped blotch covering most of it. Its legs are dark with thin, yellow stripes.

Both of Wisconsin's painted turtles like to eat aquatic plants, snails, crayfish, insects, and small fish as food. Painted turtles spend lots of time basking in the sun on logs and on mats of floating plants. This helps them keep warm, speed egg development, digest food, and maintain their shells.



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