Naturalist’s Corner – Painted Turtles!

Naturalist’s Corner – Painted Turtles!

Posted May 27, 2020

Written by Kyla Isakson

Juvenile Painted Turtle in Plympton, MA photographed by Kyla Isakson

Painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) are found throughout Massachusetts, and they live in mostly wetland areas. Their diet consists of a variety of foods including aquatic plants, snails, and small fish. Painted turtles are active March through November, and they can spend up to six hours basking in the sun on warm days. Nesting season is typically late May until early July, and females lay two to eight eggs. The eggs hatch in late summer and early fall, but the hatchlings can stay in the nest until the following spring.

Characteristics of painted turtles include a dark shell with red or yellow designs along the edge, and yellow stripes on their legs and head. Under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA), wild turtles are protected, and it is prohibited to collect and keep protected turtles. Non-listed turtles, including painted turtles, require a permit for possession of live or dead individuals, which includes shells. If you find a turtle in your yard, in the road, or on a trail, please do not touch or move it if it is unsafe. In the event that you have the opportunity to SAFELY move the turtle, Massachusetts strongly recommends that you “move it in the direction it was heading and off the edge of the road. It is trying to get to habitats and resources it needs.”

Adult Painted Turtle in Onset, MA photographed by Amy Pettigrew

(C) Wareham Land Trust ~ provided by New Bedford Internet