Size (shell diameter): Hatchlings 2-2.5 cm, Juveniles 10cm, Mature adults 25 cm (females larger than males). The carapace (upper shell) of adults is smooth, olive-green to dark brown. Outer edges can be patterned with red lines. The head, neck and tail are olive to greenish-black and striped with yellow. The intricate black and yellow branching pattern on the plastron (lower shell) is not present on all individuals, though the plastron is always red or orange. Colour patterning can be variable between individuals and between populations. The upper jaw has a notch located just under the nostrils. Males have very long front claws and thicker tails with a cloacal (tail vent) opening that is closer to the end of the tail than to the carapace. Females have shorter front claws, and thinner tails with cloacal openings closer to the carapace than to the end of the tail. Hatchlings have rounder carapaces that are slightly keeled along the length and similar but more vibrant colouration than adults. *In 2003, DNA studies suggested that the Eastern, Midland and Western North American subspecies of Painted Turtle should be merged to just a single species (C. picta), leaving only one other separate species in the southern US.
British Columbia’s Coast Region Species and Ecological Communities of Conservation Concern
SPECIES PROFILE: Western Painted Turtle – Pacific Coast Population (Chrysemys picta pop.1)
BC Conservation Data Centre. 2015. Species Summary: Chrysemys picta pop. 1. BC Ministry of Environment. - BC Ministry of
Environment. The Western Painted Turtle Recovery Team. 2010. Draft Recovery Strategy for the Western Painted Turtle (Pacific Coast Population), Chrysemys picta bellii, in British Columbia (March 2010). Original version prepared by Vanessa Kilburn for the B.C. Ministry of Environment, Victoria, BC. 45 pp. - BC Ministry of Environment. [Internet] Western Painted turtle Identification Guide. BC Turtlewatch. - Bunnell, Cory G. Filed Survey of Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) in the Lower Fraser Valley of British Columbia 2005. Wildlife Afield. - California Herps.com
2011. [Internet] Western Painted Turtle Chrysemys picta belli. - Central Kootenay Invasive Plant Committee. 2010. [Internet] Turtle Mortalities The Deadly Reach of Invasive Plants. - Cooley, R. et al. 2003. Demography and Diet of the Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) at High Elevation Sites in Southwestern Colorado. The Southwestern Naturalist 48(1):47-53. - COSEWIC 2006. [Internet] COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Western Painted Turtle Chrysemys picta bellii (Pacific Coast population, Intermountain-Rocky Mountain population and Prairie/Western Boreal - Canadian Shield population) in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vii + 40 pp. - COSEWIC 2010. [In draft] Recovery Strategy for Western Painted Turtle (Pacific Coast population)(Chrysemys picta bellii) in British Columbia. - Engelstoft, Christian and Kristiina Ovaska. 2008. [Internet] Western Painted Turtle Surveys on Galiano, Pender, and Vancouver Island, 2008 Including Surveys in Selected CRD Regional Parks. Prepared for the Capital Regional District and Habitat Acquisition Trust. - Foster & Smith. 2011. [Internet] Lighting for Turtles & Tortoises: Why UV is Key. - Germano, J.M. and P.J. Bishop. 2008. [Internet] Suitability of Amphibians and Reptiles for Translocation. Conservation Biology 23:7-15. - Gervais, Jennifer et al. 2009. [Internet] Conservation Assessment For The Western Painted Turtle In Oregon (Chrysemys picta bellii). U.S.D.I. Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service et al. - Gowans, Billi. 2010. [Personal comm.] Enkon Environmental. Heyer, W.R., et al. 1994. Measuring and Monitoring Biological Diversity. Standard Methods for Amphibians. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington. -
Jackson, Donald C. 2002. Hibernating without oxygen: physiological adaptations of the painted turtle. The Physiological Society, Journal of Physiology 543.3, pp. 731–737. - Kilburn, Vanessa. 2010. [Personal comm.] BCCF Western Painted Turtle Project. - Matsuda, B.M. 2002. [Internet] The Wetlandkeepers Handbook: Section 5, Module 2.4. Conducting an Amphibian Inventory. BC Wildlife Federation, Surrey, BC. - Mitchell, Aimee Management Plan for The Western Painted
Turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii) in the Alouette River Watershed. 2012. Prepared for: BC Hydro’s Bridge Coastal Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program nd BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations . BCRP Report No. 11.ALU.W.01 - Mitchell, Aimee, Vanessa Kilburn, Justin Suraci, and Chris Currie, Vanessa Kilburn, Justin Suraci, and Chris Currie. The South Coast Western Painted Turtle Recovery Project. 2012. Recovery of the Western Painted Turtle and Associated Species at Risk on the South Coast of BC 2011-2012 Final Report. Prepared for the BC Ministry of Environment, and the BC Conservation Foundation, Surrey,BC. - Olson, D.H., Leonard, W.P., Bury, R.B. 1997. Sampling Amphibians in Lentic Habitats: Methods and Approaches for the Pacific Northwest. Northwest Fauna Number 4. Society for Northwestern Vertebrate Biology, Olympia, WA. - Ovaska, Kristiina et al. 2004. [internet] Best Management Practices for Amphibians and
Reptiles in Urban and Rural Environments in British Columbia. BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection. Nanaimo. - Salt Spring Island Conservancy. 2010. [Internet] Western painted Turtle. Chrysemys picta bellii Western population. - Spinks, Philip Q. et al. 2003. [Internet] Survival of the western pond turtle (Emys marmorata) in an urban California environment. Biological Conservation 113 (2003) 257–267. - Sielecki, Leonard E. 2010. [Internet] Wildlife identification field guide: red and blue listed amphibians and reptiles in British Columbia . - Starkey, David E. et al. 2003. [Internet] Molecular Systematics, Phylogeography, and the Effects of Pleistocene Glaciation in the Painted Turtle (Chrysemys Picta) Complex. The Society for the Study of Evolution. 57(1), pp. 119–128. - Western Painted Turtle Recovery Team. 2010 [in draft] Draft Recovery Strategy for the Western Painted Turtle (Pacific Coast Population), Chrysemys picta bellii, in British Columbia Wikipedia the Online Encyclopedia. 2011. [Internet] Painted Turtle.
Species Profile prepared by: Pamela Zevit with Brent Matsuda for the South Coast Conservation Program (SCCP) in partnership with: International Forest Products (Interfor), Capacity Forestry (CapFor) and the Species at Risk & Local Government: A Primer for BC. Funding was made possible through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI): http://www.sfiprogram.org/
Updated and revised by: Isabelle Houde, RPBio in consultation with the SCCP. Part of the National Conservation Plan, this project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada. Dans le cadre du Plan de Conservation National, ce projet a été réalisé avec l’appui financier du Gouvernement du Canada.
Every effort has been made to ensure content accuracy. Comments or corrections should be directed to the South Coast Conservation Program: firstname.lastname@example.org. Content updated March 2015.
Image Credits: Western Painted Turtle: William Leonard, Western Painted Turtle (ventral view): James H. Harding, Slider turtle: Sea Turtle Flickr, Habitat: Calypso Orchid Flickr. Only images sourced from “creative commons” sources (e.g. Wikipedia,Flickr, U.S. Government) can be used without permission and for non-commercial purposes only. All other images have been contributed for use by the SCCP and its partners/funders only.