Western Painted Turtle

Chrysemys picta belli

Status

Special Concern (Federal)
Blue-Listed (Provincial)

Description

The only native turtle in the BC Interior. Head and legs are greenish-black with yellow striping. Upper part of the shell is a greenish-brown, the under-parts (plastron) are have a vivid red, yellow and black "painted" pattern. The population of Painted Turtles in coastal BC is listed as Endangered.

A non-native, invasive turtle, the Red-Eared Slider is also present in BC and has distinctive red ear-shaped blotches on its head that the Painted Turtle does not have. Red-eard sliders also have a dull yellow and brown plastron.

Habitat

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This aquatic turtle species is found in the shallow waters of ponds, lakes, marshes, and slow-moving stream reaches. Suitable wetlands have muddy bottoms, an abundance of emergent vegetation, and numerous basking sites, such as logs and accessible sandy banks for nesting. The habitat of the Western Painted Turtle also includes the riparian zones bordering these water bodies, as well as sandy areas nearby for egg laying

Painted Turtles can be found in ponds and wetlands throughout the southern interior of BC.

Threats

-Wetland and habitat loss due to human activities (agriculture, development, infilling, water pollution)
-Draining and drying of wetlands (increasing natural drought)
-Bank erosion, loss of riparian vegetation, habitat fragmentation
-Road mortality is a major problem for turtles as they migrate between habitat types
-Increased competition for food and reproduction sites with invasive Red-eared Sliders

You Can Help!

-Protect remaining wetlands and adjacent egg-laying habitat
-Avoid fragmenting turtle habitat with roads
-Restore existing wetlands (native vegetation), provide artificial basking logs and nesting beaches.
-Support Red-eared Slider removal programs and never release pets into the wild.

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