Painted Turtles

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.

Locally, Brooklyn painted turtles can be seen in Prospect Park and the Botanic Garden.

6 Responses to “Painted Turtles”


  1. 1 Out Walking the Dog June 3, 2011 at 8:09 am

    What strange and wonderful creatures turtles are, and what a stunning paint job on the underside of that drab shell.

  2. 2 Elizabeth White June 6, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Much prettier than the young snapping turtle I moved away from the road in Connecticut last week! That one’s shell was also about 5 inches long.

    • 3 mthew June 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm

      Snappers never seem to win any awards for best-looking turtle.

      • 4 Elizabeth White June 7, 2011 at 2:41 pm

        Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and apparently most observers don’t see the inner beauty of snappers! Were you with the BBC group that got to see the mating attempts of two immense snapping turtles in the swanboat lake in Prospect Park a few years ago? Not a pretty sight – involved much splashing and a fair amount of blood.

      • 5 mthew June 7, 2011 at 4:49 pm

        I missed that. I have seen one snapper in the Lullwater, and several years ago I experienced the big carp slapping the water with great excitement.

  3. 6 TGIQ June 13, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Aww, that young painted is lovely!


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