Chrysemys picta
(Schneider 1783)

krĭs-ŭh-mēz — pĭk-tă

A juvenile Painted Turtle from Cheyenne County, Kansas. Image © Travis W. Taggart.
An adult Painted Turtle from Douglas County, Kansas. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
Ventral pattern of a Linn County, Kansas Painted Turtle. Image © unknown.

As their name suggests, Painted Turtles are colorful. The relatively smooth carapace is dark brown to green, with red to yellow marking along the outer edges and often thin yellow lines internally. The margins of the carapace are smooth; not serrated. The plastron is red to orange with a series of black and yellow markings along the center. The head and legs have many yellow to red stripes and spots.
Ad ults normally 90-180 mm (3½-7 inches) in carapace length; largest specimen from Kansas: sex undetermined (KU 159983) from Barton County with carapace length of 207 mm (8 1/8 inches) collected by William Knighton and Natalie Fayman on 24 June 1989; maximum ca rapace length throughout range: 9 7/8 inches (Conant and Collins, 1998).

This turtle may be found throughout Kansas, but is least abundant in the southwest. Populations in the southwest are extanct, but may be the result of introductions. 
Records mapped in Collins (1994) for Dickinson (KU 3191-2, 157811) and Greenwood (MVZ 43719-20) counties are given to county only and are too imprecise to map. The record mapping in Collins (1994) from Morris County is unknown and not mapped.

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
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  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 528 Total Records 
  • 395 Museum Vouchers 
  • 133 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (3); Anderson (5); Atchison (1); Barber (1); Barton (12); Bourbon (9); Brown (3); Butler (8); Chase (2); Chautauqua (1); Cherokee (7); Cheyenne (4); Clark (1); Clay (1); Cloud (1); Coffey (4); Comanche (1); Cowley (13); Crawford (23); Decatur (3); Dickinson (3); Doniphan (6); Douglas (31); Edwards (1); Elk (1); Ellis (57); Ellsworth (4); Finney (8); Ford (2); Franklin (13); Geary (2); Gove (5); Graham (5); Greeley (1); Greenwood (4); Hamilton (1); Harper (11); Harvey (4); Haskell (1); Hodgeman (4); Jackson (2); Jefferson (1); Jewell (9); Johnson (1); Kingman (5); Kiowa (1); Labette (3); Leavenworth (8); Lincoln (3); Linn (3); Logan (7); Lyon (10); Marion (1); Marshall (2); McPherson (3); Meade (6); Miami (14); Mitchell (2); Montgomery (3); Morton (1); Neosho (3); Ness (4); Norton (3); Osage (2); Osborne (5); Ottawa (4); Pawnee (5); Phillips (6); Pottawatomie (2); Pratt (23); Rawlins (3); Reno (2); Republic (3); Rice (3); Riley (4); Rooks (5); Rush (2); Russell (20); Saline (8); Scott (2); Sedgwick (4); Shawnee (4); Sheridan (1); Sherman (2); Smith (1); Stafford (2); Sumner (4); Thomas (2); Trego (16); Unknown (4); Wabaunsee (3); Wallace (8); Washington (5); Wichita (2); Wilson (3); Woodson (3); Wyandotte (2);

Natural History:
Mating begins after hibernation and before feeding begins when the water temperatures are still low. Fall mating may also occur. Temperature is a major environmental cue for the regulation of the seasonal gonadal cycle, but the thermal dependence of the reproductive system differs markedly for the two sexes. The breeding season lasts from late spring to early summer. Males mature at about 70-95 mm plastron (lower shell) length, usually at 3-5 years of age. Females at take longer (6-10 years) and are larger at maturity (c. 100-130 mm plastron length). In the early summer females lay 4 to 15 oval, soft-shelled eggs, in a flask-shaped hole. Females choose soft, sandy soil with good exposure to the sun in which to dig the hole. Once the eggs are laid they cover the hole and leave. The young hatch and dig out of the nest on their own, they are independent immediately.
Painted Turtles are most often seen basking on logs in ponds and backwaters. Active on warm sunny days year-round. Females lay 2-8 eggs in late spring. Though the eggs hatch in late summer, the young turtles often remain in the underground nest until the following spring. The adults are primarily vegetarian, however the hatchlings will eat a wider variety of food items including small invertebrates and carrion.

Occurrence Activity:
The sex of the turtle is determined during a critical phase of embryogenesis according to the incubation temperature. These temperature-dependent reptiles lack sex chromosomes. Low temperatures during incubation produce males and high temperatures produce females. Hatchlings have two threshold temperatures, 27 to 32 C and 22C. These thresholds may be important to some northern or woodland populations. The availability of water in the nests is more important than temperature in influencing survival, metabolism, and growth of the embryos.

1885 Cragin, Francis W. Recent additions to the list of Kansas reptiles and batrachians, with further notes on species previously reported. Bulletin of the Washburn College Laboratory of Natural History 1(3):100-103
1885 Cragin, Francis W. Second contribution to the herpetology of Kansas, with observations on the Kansas fauna. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 9():136-140
1928 Burt, Charles E. Some distributional and ecological records of Kansas reptiles. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 26():186-208
1932 Gloyd, Howard K. The herpetological fauna of the Pigeon Lake Region, Miami County, Kansas. Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 15():389-408
1933 Taylor, Edward H. Observations on the courtship of turtles. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 21(6):269-271
1934 Brennan, Lawrence A. A check list of the amphibians and reptiles of Ellis County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():189-191
1935 Brennan, Lawrence A. Notes on the Distribution of Amphibia and Reptilia of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 114pp.
1935 Burt, Charles E. Further records of the ecology and distribution of amphibians and reptiles in the middle west. American Midland Naturalist 16(3):311-366
1935 Burt, Charles E. and William L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1937 Brennan, Lawrence A. A study of the habitat of reptiles and amphibians of Ellis County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 40():341-347
1956 Clarke, Robert F. Identification of Kansas turtles. Kansas School Naturalist 2(4):1-3
1956 Clarke, Robert F. Turtles in Kansas. Kansas School Naturalist 2(4):1-15
1962 Gish, Charles D. The Herpetofauna of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 34pp.
1971 Ernst, Carl H. Chrysemys picta. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (106):1-4
1974 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (1):283 pp
1976 Caldwell, Janalee P. and Gregory. Glass. Vertebrates of the Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Pages 62-76 in Preliminary inventory of the biota of Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Report No. 5. State Biological Survey of Kansas, Lawrence. pp.
1977 Knight, James L. and Joseph T. Collins. The amphibians and reptiles of Cheyenne County, Kansas, Report Number 15. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 19pp.
1988 Ernst, Carl H. Chrysemys . Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (438):1-8
1991 Fitch, Henry S. Reptiles and amphibians of the Kansas ecological reserves. Pages 71-74 in Multidisciplinary Guidebook 4. Kansas Academy of Science, Lawrence. pp.
1992 Edds, David R. Population status and incidence of anatomical abnormalities in semiaquatic turtles of the Walnut and lower Arkansas river basins. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. 58pp.
1993 Collins, Joseph T. and Suzanne L. Collins. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. Third Edition. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Lawrence. 397pp.
2000 Van Doren, Mark D. and Curtis J. Schmidt. A herpetological survey of the Fort Larned National Historic Site, Pawnee County, Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (120):8-11
2002 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 2001. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (1):10-11
2002 Miller, Larry L. Osage County herp count II. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):15
2002 Riedle, J. Daren and A. Hynek. Amphibian and reptile inventory of the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant, Labette County, Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (2):18-20
2002 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2002 fall field Trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):11-13
2004 Delisle, Jennifer M. and William H. Busby Biological inventory for vertebrates at Fort Larned National Historic Site of the southern plains network. Natural Heritage Inventory, Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 61pp.
2005 Taggart, Travis W., Curtis J. Schmidt, and Richard S. Hayes. Geographic distribution: Chrysemys picta. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (13):10
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Addendum report to biological inventory of the sandsage prairie near Holcomb, Kansas. Sunflower Electric Cooperative, Hays, Kansas. 31pp.
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2007 Taggart, Travis W. A biological inventory of the Sunflower Electric Site near Holcomb, Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology 23():11-16
2010 Miller, Larry L. 2010 Investigation of the Checkered Garter Snake in Kansas with notes on other Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles encountered. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt, Kansas. 31pp.
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2012 Singleton, Jennifer. Selected aspects of the biology of semi-aquatic turtles in east-central Kansas: Winter thermal profiles and escape behavior. Thesis. Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas. 58pp.
Account Last Updated:
11/19/2018 2:23:11 PM

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