The Painted Turtle of the Pacific Northwest
Painted Turtles can be found on the south east side of Vancouver Island. The one in these photos was in the Victoria area.
Painted turtles prefer the shores and shallows of lakes, ponds, ditches and sluggish creeks and streams that have muddy bottoms and a variety of aquatic plants. Painted turtles also require nearby upland nesting areas that face south, are relatively dry and the soil is easily dug for nesting sites.
During the breeding season the male will face the female head on and with his long claws will gently stroke her head. The pair will sink to the bottom where mating occurs.
Egg laying takes place at night in early June to July. The female first Digs a 12 cm deep hole with her powerful feet and then deposits from 6 to 18 small, 3 cm long, white eggs, covers them with soil and leaves. The eggs hatch in September but the hatchlings remain in the nest until the following spring.
Painted turtles feed on frogs, tadpoles, insects and snails and a variety of aquatic plants. Young turtles are mostly carnivorous but tend to eat more plant life as they age.
The painted turtle is found on the southern portions of Vancouver Island, a few gulf Islands and on the sunshine coast between Powell River and Sechelt.
Painted turtles will hibernate in the mud for up to six months of the year, they can live up to 30 years.
Sometimes you can see them basking on a log off shore, stacked three high.
There was another turtle called the western pond turtle but it is not found on Vancouver Island anymore.
The painted turtle is the only native fresh water turtle on Vancouver Island, although there are populations of the red eared slider turtle showing up in some areas. The slider has red ear spots while the painted turtle does not. Red eared sliders are an introduced species to the Island. The common snapping turtle has started to become established here on Vancouver Island as well.