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Eastern Painted Turtle

Chrysemys picta picta (Schneider)

This is the most common and most colourful turtle in Nova Scotia. The carapace is basically green with a yellow stripe down the middle and yellow edges around the shell plates. The edge is marked with red. The plastron is yellow. The head is streaked with yellow, and neck and legs and tail are streaked with red.

Painted Turtles are common in southwestern Nova Scotia, becoming less common or absent in the northeast. There are no records from Cape Breton. Look for them in plant-filled ponds, lakes and streams. They are often seen in groups basking on logs and rocks. They seem to be most common where lily pads and pickerel weed grow, eating insects, snails and bits of lily pad.

Painted Turtles dig nests along roadsides or in cultivated fields, as well as in sand or gravel beaches. The hatchlings may dig their way out in the fall of the same year. If the nest surface temperature becomes lower than the nest bottom temperature, overwintering is possible. Adults hibernate at the bottom of ponds.

Additional Facts and Details

The Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) is a complex of four subspecies: the Eastern Painted Turtle (C. p. picta), the Midland Painted Turtle (C. p. marginata), the Southern Painted Turtle (C. p. dorsalis) and the Western Painted Turtle (C. p. belli). The subspecies differ in colour pattern and alignment of the scutes of the carapace.

Nova Scotia's Painted Turtles have characteristics of both the Eastern and Midland Painted Turtle.

In Canada, the Eastern Painted Turtle is found in mainland Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In N. S., it is common to abundant in the southwestern mainland, becoming locally common or absent on the norteastern mainland. The range extends south to Alabama.

Size: for 46 adults measured in Kejimkujik National Park in southwestern Nova Scotia, the carapace length of males was 13.1 to 16.5 cm, and females 14.3 to 17.1 cm.

They inhabit vegetated ponds, lakes and streams, and seem to be most common where lily pads and pickerel weed grow.

They hibernate at the bottom of ponds.

Females migrate to sand or gravel beaches, roadbanks or cultivated fields during the afternoons, from early June to early July, to dig a nest and lay eggs.

Females lay between 6 and 11 eggs yearly (based on counts of 23 animals).

Hatchlings emerge from the nest between late September and the end of October. If the nest surface temperature becomes lower than the temperature at the bottom of the nest, they will overwinter and dig out the following spring.

They are generally active in day, but have been seen resting embedded like beach stones in a lake bottom in daytime, and also feeding at nighttime.

They eat a variety of aquatic insects, their larvae or nymphs and other invertebrates, particularly snails, and small pieces of lily pads.

Fresh Water and Land Turtles

Eastern Painted Turtle

Wood Turtle

Common Snapping Turtle

Blanding's Turtle

Sea Turtles

Atlantic Leatherback Turtle

Atlantic Ridley Turtle

Atlantic Loggerhead Turtle

Turtle Information

Observing Nova Scotia Turtles