The painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) generally inhabits slow-moving freshwater—such as slow-moving streams and rivers, marshes, lakes, and ponds—with areas of dense vegetation for shelter and feeding. The species is native to Canada, the continental United States, and northern Mexico. The painted turtle is one of the most prolific and widely distributed turtle species in North America. The eastern painted turtle (C. p. picta) is native to the East Coast of the U.S., from Georgia to Maine, and parts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in Canada. It can also be found in an eastern portion of Alabama, where its range overlaps with the southern painted turtle (C. p. dorsalis). Painted turtles are omnivores that eat mostly aquatic animals and vegetation. Painted turtle eggs are preyed on by snakes, birds, and small mammals, like foxes and squirrels. Hatchlings are preyed on by large fish, other turtle species, large aquatic insects, snakes, bullfrogs, birds, and small mammals. As ectotherms, painted turtles are often found basking in groups on logs, rocks, and land, which also helps rid themselves of ectoparasites. Inclusive of all subspecies, the painted turtle is considered a species of least concern by the IUCN Red List. However, populations are affected by habitat loss, road mortality, pollution, and the pet trade. Conservation efforts occur on a state-by-state basis in the U.S., some of which have protections for turtles and habitat.
Photo and haiku by: Samantha Oester