Skip to Content

Southern Painted Turtle Profile

Southern Painted Turtle

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Testudines
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Genus: Chrysemys
  • Species: Chrysemys dorsalis

Quick Overview

The Southern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys dorsalis) is a captivating and vibrant freshwater turtle native to the southern regions of North America. Belonging to the Chrysemys genus, this turtle shares common traits with its relatives but displays distinctive features that contribute to its allure among reptile enthusiasts.

Fast Facts

  • Scientific Name: Chrysemys dorsalis
  • Lifespan: With proper care, Southern Painted Turtles can live for several decades, often exceeding 20 years.
  • Average Size: Adult Southern Painted Turtles typically have a shell length ranging from 4 to 6 inches.
  • Diet: Omnivorous, with a diverse diet that includes aquatic plants, small fish, insects, and invertebrates.
  • Habitat: Commonly found in various aquatic environments such as ponds, lakes, slow-moving rivers, and marshes.

Did you know?

The vibrant shell markings of the Southern Painted Turtle not only serve an aesthetic purpose but also act as effective camouflage in their natural habitats.


Southern Painted Turtles showcase a captivating appearance with a smooth, olive to black shell adorned with vivid red and yellow markings. Their skin often features a mix of dark and light patterns, and the undersides (plastrons) are typically yellow with dark markings. These distinctive and vibrant colors contribute to their popularity among turtle enthusiasts.

Size and Weight

Adult Southern Painted Turtles generally reach a shell length of 4 to 6 inches, with females usually being slightly larger than males. Their weight can vary but is typically between 200 and 400 grams.

Temperament and Behavior

Known for their calm demeanor, Southern Painted Turtles are skilled swimmers frequently observed basking on rocks or logs. While they may display some shyness, they can become accustomed to human presence, especially during feeding times.

Fun Fact

Southern Painted Turtles exhibit skilled basking behavior, often seen stacking on top of each other on a sunny log, creating a visually striking display.

Habitat and Distribution

Indigenous to the southern parts of North America, Southern Painted Turtles showcase adaptability by thriving in various aquatic environments, including ponds, lakes, slow-moving rivers, and marshes.

Care Guide

For those interested in keeping Southern Painted Turtles as pets:

  • Enclosure: Provide a well-structured aquatic habitat with a basking area, UVB lighting, and a water filtration system.
  • Temperature: Maintain a basking area temperature around 85-90°F (29-32°C) and water temperature around 75-80°F (24-27°C).
  • Diet: Offer a balanced diet, including commercial turtle pellets, leafy greens, insects, and aquatic plants.
  • Health Check-ups: Regularly monitor your pet’s health, including eyes, nose, and shell, and seek veterinary care when needed.

Diet and Nutrition

Southern Painted Turtles thrive on a diverse diet that includes commercial turtle pellets, leafy greens, aquatic plants, and protein sources like insects or small fish. Calcium supplements may be necessary for their overall health.

Health and Wellness

Maintaining proper humidity, a balanced diet, and access to sunlight or UVB lighting are essential for the overall health and well-being of Southern Painted Turtles.


Similar to other Painted Turtles, Southern Painted Turtles reproduce by laying eggs in sandy or loamy soil. The gender of the offspring is influenced by the incubation temperature.

Conservation Status

While not currently classified as endangered, Southern Painted Turtles face threats such as habitat loss and road mortality. Conservation efforts focus on preserving their natural habitats.

Three Fascinating Facts About Southern Painted Turtles

  1. Regional Adaptations: Southern Painted Turtles exhibit variations in behavior and habitat preferences specific to their southern geographical locations.
  2. Social Basking: These turtles often engage in communal basking, creating visually appealing displays as they stack on top of each other on basking sites.
  3. Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination: The gender of Southern Painted Turtle hatchlings is influenced by the temperature during incubation, with warmer temperatures generally producing females and cooler temperatures producing males.
Pierre And The ReptileCraze Team