A painted turtle is a medium-sized water turtle. It has a smooth black or deep green upper shell (carapace) with bright red and yellow markings. The lower shell (plastron) is light yellow in color with a gray line down the center. The tail, legs, head and neck are black or dark green with red or yellow stripes.
Painted turtles can grow to be 4 to 7 inches long (10.2-17.8 cm).
In the wild, the painted turtle eats a variety of plants and small animals including fish, insects, and crustaceans. At Cosley Zoo, the painted turtle is fed crickets, earthworms, and commercial reptile pellets.
Most mating occurs in the spring. Females nest from late May until July, seeking sunny sites near the water that have slightly moist sand or soil. The female lays between 4 and 20 (usually 7 or 8) elliptical, soft-shelled eggs in the nest cavity and carefully covers them. The eggs hatch in about 70 to 80 days.
Painted turtles live in ponds, lakes, marshes, and slow-moving streams and rivers. They prefer shallow water with a muddy bottom and ample aquatic vegetation. Often, they will move over land to find suitable habitat.
Painted turtles can live to be 35-40 years old.
Painted turtles are important components of the food chain in aquatic ecosystems. Besides being important predators of numerous small animals, they are also a food source for a variety of predators including raccoons, otters, mink, and foxes.