Friday, September 18, 2015

Painted Turtle

Though Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta) are one of the most commonly sighted turtles in the United States, this does little to diminish their beauty. Sporting some of  the most striking and vibrant coloration of any North American turtle, painters are easily distinguishable and... well... just plain cool. The female in these pictures was found in late May--a time when painted turtles leave the water to lay their eggs on land.

Like most of their reptilian brothers, painted turtles are cold blooded. They can often be found sunning themselves on logs and bog mats throughout the late spring and summer. The infusion of heat that they get from the sun gives them the energy to forage, mate, and swim around quickly enough to make catching one in the water more than a bit challenging.

Females like this one will lay a clutch of anywhere from 2-20 eggs, and in some especially productive years, a second clutch in late July or early August. In such cases, baby painted turtles have been known to over-winter in their nests if they're born too late in the season. When they do emerge, hatchlings are basically carnivorous. As they mature into adults, however, painted turtles fill much more of their diet with vegetation and berries.

Fun Fact: While there are several ways to easily distinguish adult male from female painted turtles, their offspring actually start out with no gender. Yup, you read that right. Unlike humans, which are born with sex chromosomes passed down from their parents, painted turtles are born with no sex dictating chromosomes. Instead, the temperature the eggs are incubating at will dictate whether the turtle embryo will become male or female.

Photographs taken May 2015 - Argyle, NY

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