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Painted Turtle

(Chrysemys picta)

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This is the most common turtle on campus and in Minnesota. The dark, smooth shell and yellow and black-striped skin easily distinguish this turtle from other species. The bottom shell (plastron) is red to orange with a black and white pattern resembling a Rorschach inkblot.
The particular subspecies of Painted Turtle found at Saint John's Arboretum is the Western Painted Turtle, Chrysemys picta belli. This turtle is seen sunning in wetlands on almost any clear day when ice is not present. Males rarely grow longer than 12 cm (shell length), while females are usually 15 to 18 cm long. Males have significantly larger front claws and a longer, thicker tail. Courtship takes place following a long pursuit, when the male manages to stop a female and position himself in front of her. The male will then use his front claws to pat the female’s cheeks, with the bottoms of the feet facing out. If she accepts, the two may interlock arms and sink to the bottom, or else she will lead him to a preferred spot to breed. 

This turtle is extremely tolerant of cold, and is sometimes seen active beneath the ice in frozen lakes and ponds during winter.

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