Five fast facts about painted turtles
Spring has sprung in the Credit River Watershed and painted turtles are turtle-ly loving the recent warmth. Turtles and snakes are the first reptiles to be sighted after overwintering. Ontario is home to two painted turtle species: The Midland Painted Turtle and Western Painted Turtle. The Midland Painted Turtle, recently classified as ‘at risk’ in southern Ontario, is more commonly found in the Credit River Watershed.
Painted turtles live in slow moving rivers, streams, ponds, lakes and marshes that have muddy bottoms, aquatic plants and exposed rocks and logs. The next time you’re out in nature with a friend and spot a painted turtle, wow them with these five neat facts:
1. They can live a long time
The average life span of a painted turtle is 20 to 30 years old but they’ve been known to live over 50!
2. They live a life of leisure
Painted turtles bask in the sun for five to six hours a day. When they aren’t sun bathing, they’re enjoying a meal made up of fish, worms, insects and aquatic plants. Interestingly, painted turtles can’t freely move their tongues on land, so they must eat in the water to manipulate food and wash it down.
3. Male turtles are the ones with long, pretty nails.
During mating season, male painted turtles use their long nails to stroke the female’s head. If the female likes what she sees, she’ll sink down to the bottom of the water and wait for the male to mate with her.
4. Female turtles are amniotes
While painted turtles spend the majority of their time in water, female turtles are amniotes, which means they lay their eggs on land. They prefer their nests to be dug in soft, sandy soil with good exposure to the sun. The nests are dug with the turtle’s hind feet, usually within 200 meters of water.
5. Baby turtles get tough love
After the female lays her eggs, she provides no parental care for the baby turtles, known as hatchlings. When the hatchlings come out of their nests, usually at night, they are on their own to find water and survive.
Turtles are an important part of a healthy ecosystem. Learn more about reptiles in the Credit River Watershed by visiting our wildlife page, check out our Instagram page to see awesome wildlife pictures or share your wildlife sightings by tagging us on Twitter.