Habitat/Range: Painted turtles are found in North America from southern Canada to northern Mexico. They are they most widespread turtle in North America. They live in slow moving bodies of water with soft bottoms and plenty of aquatic vegetation. There are four subspecies of painted turtles: the eastern, midland, southern, and western painted turtles.
Behavior: Painted turtles spend most of their time in the water but do spend several hours in the morning and throughout the day basking in the sun on top of rocks or other debris. They alternate foraging in the water for aquatic plants and insects with basking to warm themselves. At nighttime, they return to the bottom of their body of water (such as a pond) to sleep. Over winter, painted turtles hibernate underwater and do not require oxygen during this time.
Breeding: Painted turtles mate in spring and autumn. Females are larger and dominant to males. After copulation, females store sperm in their oviducts and can use it for up to 3 clutches. This sperm can remain viable for up to 3 years! Females dig their nest close to their body of water and deposit their eggs into the nest once it is finished; this is the end of her maternal investment. The eggs incubate for 72-80 days and hatch in August or September. Hatchlings use a specialized egg tooth to break out of their egg. In northern climates, hatchlings may experience delayed emergence (they remain in their nests until the following spring).
Conservation: Listing: Least concern. While not classified as threatened, painted turtle populations are decreasing. Their range has been reduced due to habitat loss. Roadkill is one common cause of mortality for painted turtles.