This is why they’re called painted turtles: We found this one on the road right outside the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary last week. I hopped out of the car to get it off the road. The turtle immediately pulled in all its extremities, tucking its tail along the side, which was nice since the claws are sharp. (Some turtles will squirt you, so beware!) Took a quick picture of its underside before putting it on the safer side of a stone wall. Size here is about 5.5 inches long.
We saw several others that were not so lucky. This is a very dangerous time for turtles, who are on the move in search of nesting sites. That means, inevitably, that they try to cross roads.
Turtle mortality is very high. In addition to cars, predators like raccoons are very skillful at plundering nests (at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, the diamond-back terrapin nests around the West Pond path get savaged). This little painted turtle — with its shell the size of a dollar coin — was on the side of the road on Nantucket two weeks ago. I don’t know what killed it. This youngster came from an egg laid last year; it spent the winter underground, to emerge this spring. That’s the way they do it in the northern states. (Two years ago, I found a live baby painted about the same time of year) This one, alas, never made it to water.