The painted turtle was named Colorado's official state reptile by the General Assembly in 2008. Ranging in size from 2" to just under 10", this hard-shelled turtle gets its name from bright red and/or orange markings on the underbelly. It is also identifiable by the bright yellow lines on the neck, head and limbs. Females have shells that are typically larger (up to 9.8") than males of the species. Painted turtles enter a period of hibernation during the winter months, emerging as early as February in the southern portion of its range and as late as May in the north.
Range: The painted turtle is found from southern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. They can be found from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Northwest and can survive at elevations from sea level to 8,500 ft. In Colorado, the painted turtle is common throughout the eastern part of the state. Smaller dispersed populations have been confirmed in southwestern Colorado's La Plata and Archuleta counties and some sightings have been reported in Moffat, Garfield and Mesa counties.
Habitat: Painted turtles are an aquatic species and are most often found close to the shoreline of ponds, marshes and small lakes. They may also utilize slow water or back water areas of ditches, streams and rivers. Turtles will also seek out rocks and logs where they can sun during the day.
Diet: Like many species of turtle, painted turtles are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and meat. Painted turtles eat aquatic plants, worms, spiders, aquatic insects, crayfish, small fish and small amphibians.
Reproduction: From May through August, female painted turtles lay groups (clutches) of eggs. Each clutch can contain from one to 25 eggs. In northern parts of the range, one or two clutches may be laid each year. Turtles in the southern portion of the range may have up to four clutches in a year. Females may skip a year between nestings.