Chrysemys picta picta

Click on thumbnail to view larger picture


Carapace - The olive-to-black carapace is smooth, oval and flat, with the highest and widest portions at the center and has yellow or red borders along the seems. There are also red bars or crescents on each of the larger scutes. Some Eastern Painteds will have a narrow stripe running down the middle of the carapace, from just behind the head to above the tail, if it is present at all. This stripe is more noticeable in some individuals, while difficult to see in others. These stripes can be red, orange or yellow. The ends of the back of the carapace are smooth, not serrated. The vertebral and pleural seems are aligned and the carapacial scutes have plain yellow borders.

Plastron - The hingeless plastron is patternless and yellow-to-cream in color. Some individuals may have a blotch which is black or red. The presence, size, color and shape of this blotch varies between individuals. Most have no markings at all.

Head - Moderately size, the head, neck and the top of the beak is notched. The skin of the head, neck, tail and legs is black. The tail, neck and legs have yellow stripes. There is a large, yellow dot on their neck behind either side of the head.

Size -  Males can attain a length of 4 - 6" while females can reach anywhere from 6 - 8".


Eastern Painted turtles can be found in southeastern Canada through the New England and Atlantic coastal states, down to Georgia and west into east Alabama.

  • Air Temperature:  Low to mid 80's
  • Basking Temperature:  High 80's to low 90's
  • Water Temperature:  Low to mid 70's

Eastern Painted turtles are extremely hardy with most temperatures as their range extends into the northern US and Canada, thus making them excellent specimens for a year-round outside habitat in most of the US. However, there are some that believe that those found in the warmer climates are not able to handle the cooler climates than that their northern counterparts can. Be mindful of this if outdoor hibernation in the northern U.S. is planned.


Eastern Painteds are great beginner turtles. They are hardy turtles and are very tame around keepers, which makes them more enjoyable since they aren't constantly running and hiding when keepers come near them.


Throughout their lives, Eastern Painteds are omnivorous with the strong preference for being carnivores. This creates the opportunity for keepers to offer too much in the way of proteins. It is important to keep a check on the turtle's diet and ensure that it is getting a well-rounded feeding. In captivity, they do well on Mazuri and ReptoMin, Reptile/Pond 10, Cichlid Sticks, feeder fish, occasional ghost shrimp, aquatic plants (such as Water Lilies, Water Hyacinth, Duckweed, Anachris, Water Lettuce, Water Fern, Pondweed, Water starwort, Hornwort, Water milfoil, and Frogbit), veggies (such as Zucchini, Squash, Collard Greens, Beet Leaves, Endive, Romaine, Red Leaf Lettuce, Kale, Escarole, Mustard Greens & Dandelions) and some fruits, crickets, meal worms and blood worms.

It is not uncommon for adult Painted Turtles to go a period of 2-3 weeks without eating, provided that they are active and otherwise showing no signs of illness.


For the first 6 months of life, feed commercial pellets or meaty foods such as earthworms or fish once daily, enough to diminish appetite but not gorge the turtle. After 6 months, switch to every other day feeding. Romaine lettuce & other leafy greens may be offered daily for graze at will. Over time adjust diet content & schedule accounting for growth, activity level & appetite. Overfeeding high-protein foods causes rapid growth, shell deformities (pyramiding) & is believed harmful to the liver & kidneys.


These are avid baskers, so a basking spot is required. UVB lighting is needed as well as a heat lamp over the basking spot. The basking platform will require a heat lamp to maintain daytime temps around 85-90F and the UVB lighting will provide them with the necessary means to process calcium. A submersible heater is recommended if the water temps fall below the recommend range. They are excellent swimmers and their captive habitat should have a water depth as deep as possible without allowing them to escape. Aquatic substrates are optional, ranging anywhere from a bare bottom to sand, river rock or a fine-to-medium size gravel.


Single adult painteds would do well in a 75 gallon aquarium. Single adult females would need a minimum of a 125 gallon tank. This allows them plenty of room (quality of life) in addition to plenty of water to assist in good health and filtration. Basking areas can be made of dirt, sand, gravel, smooth rocks or flat rocks, driftwood or anything that will support their weight and is non-abrasive.

Adding additional sliders to a habitat requires that you increase the size of the tank accordingly by half (ie; 1 male = 75 gallons, 2 males = 110 gallons, etc). Stock tanks also make great alternatives to glass and acrylic aquariums.


Painteds are accomplished swimmers, even as fresh hatchlings, and require deep water.


Painteds make great community inhabitants with other species from the same region and other painteds as well, provided that adequate space is given. Additional males, even of other species, can be problematic in the form  of aggression even in large enclosures. Sliders have powerful jaws and can easily kill smaller turtles, so only turtles of comparable size are recommended.


  Painteds can lay anywhere from 1 to 23 eggs at a time, dependant upon the size of the female. Incubation time lasts anywhere from 65 to 80 days at 71.6 - 89.6 F.

Males are produced when incubation temps are maintained at 71.6 - 80.6 F.

Females are produced 86 - 89.6 F.

Mixed geneders produced between 80 - 86 F.



A hatchling's captive habitat should mimic that which it would have as an adult. The requirements are the same pertaining to lighting, heat, basking and water depth. Some keepers worry that their turtle might drown in a deep water aquarium and opt to give the hatchling a shallow habitat. That is completely inaccurate. Hatchlings - even fresh day old hatchlings - do quite well in deep water. Hatchlings should also be provided with numerous plants (artificial or live) for stability, hiding and climbing. The temperature range for hatchlings and yearlings is a bit different, however, simply because of their high mortality rate. Hatchlings and yearlings should be maintained in the same range as the daytime and basking temperatures listed above, however, their water temps should be kept between 78 and 80F.


They do well on a diet of worms, fish, crickets, augmented by a quality turtle food such as Mazuri and ReptoMin. Veggies should be offered, although some hatchlings do not take to them until they are older.