Eastern Painted Turtle

Photo by Jodie Owen

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Scientific Name: Chrysemys picta picta

Classification: Nongame species

Abundance: Most of the state except for Outer Banks (blue)



Eastern painted turtle plastron (Photo by Jodie Owen)

The Eastern Painted Turtle is a small aquatic turtle that is brightly marked. Adults have smooth shells about 4 to 7 inches long. It has a relatively flat upper shell with red and yellow markings on a black or greenish-brown background. The Eastern Painted Turtle has conspicuous pale seams between carapacial scutes, especially along anterior margins of second and third vertebrals and pleurals. These relatively straight lines across the carapace often can be seen on basking turtles through binoculars for field identification. Its plastron is hingeless, typically plain yellow or stained with reddish or reddish-brown.

Eastern Painted Turtles are found in ponds, lakes, freshwater marshes and other bodies of still or slow-moving water with soft bottoms and often plentiful vegetation. They are among the most conspicuous of native basking turtles, and large numbers of them often can be seen sunning on partially submerged logs and similar objects, particularly in the spring and during the morning and afternoon in the summer. Some individuals may bask on warm, sunny days in the winter as well.

Painted turtles are omnivorous, eating both aquatic plants and animals, such as insects, crustaceans and fish.



The Eastern Painted Turtle is classified as a nongame species with no open season. It is unlawful for any person to take, or have in possession, any nongame mammal or bird unless that person has a collection license or is collecting fewer than 5 reptiles or fewer than 25 amphibians that are not endangered, threatened, or special concerned species.

There are no reported problems with this species.