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Painted Turtle

Michigan State Reptile

Painted turtles photo © Andy Williams / CritterZone: Animal - Wildlife - Nature Stock Photography (all rights reserved; used by permission).

Official State Reptile of Michigan

The gentle painted turtle was designated the official state reptile of Michigan in 1995, after a group of Niles fifth-graders discovered that Michigan did not have a state reptile (painted turtles are also state symbols of Vermont, Illinois, and Colorado). All State Reptiles

The painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) has distinctive yellow and red markings on its head, limbs, and shell. Found throughout Michigan, painted turtles range in length from four to ten inches. Painted  turtles normally live in shallow water and eat pond vegetation, insects, crayfish, and mollusks. During the cold winter months, painted turtles bury themselves in the mud and hibernate.

The painted turtle is the only turtle still commonly found in Michigan of the nine or ten native species that live in the state. The other turtles native to Michigan are Blanding's turtle, snapping turtle, musk turtle, spotted turtle, wood turtle, eastern box turtle, common map turtle, and eastern spiny softshell turtle. The red-eared slider turtle may or may not be native (some scientists believe it was introduced in the 1950's when thousands were imported for the pet turtle trade. The species might also be part native and part introduced).