The painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) is the most widespread turtle in North America. Over millions of years, it has evolved into four sub-species of painted turtles (western, eastern, southern, and midland). The Midland Painted Turtle (Chrysemis picta marginata) is native to Northern Ontario.
All painted turtles are somewhat similar in appearance. Females are larger and grow to be 10-25 cm in length. They have a smooth, dark top shell (carapace), and olive to black skin. It is the only turtle species to possess bright yellow, orange and red stripes on its extremities. The various sub species, however, can be identified by the differences in their shells: the midland has a yellowish or tan plastron (lower shell) with a ‘butterfly’ shaped marking on the midline.
Painted turtles take up to 5 years to reach sexual maturity, and, if lucky, can live up to about 40 years. They lay small clutches of eggs (3-15) in sandy soil, and are known to travel great distances in search of suitable nesting sites. Sadly, only a small percentage of eggs and hatchlings are not subject to predators.
A Red Flag!
The painted turtle is the last of Ontario’s turtles to be added to a growing list of Species at Risk. In April 2018, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) designated this turtle as Special Concern. While commonly seen basking in groups on warm, sunny days, the painted turtle is victim to the same threats that have impacted the populations of all other turtle species:
We Have a Responsibility!
The future of all turtle species looks bleak! Populations are dwindling rapidly. We need to understand the effect that environmental changes through human activity have upon biodiversity. If action is not taken immediately to limit habitat destruction and conserve precious wetlands, it may well be too late.
Please Speak up!
You can help us protect a wetland complex located within the Township of the North Shore. This pristine environment is home to a number of species at risk, including the painted turtle, and it needs to be protected!
To advocate for the conservation of this critical habitat, write letters to the local council (email@example.com), local MP Michael Mantha (firstname.lastname@example.org), and the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry (MNRF) Steve Acorn (email@example.com).
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