As I was returning home yesterday, on a beautiful, warm, sunny afternoon, I turned onto our road to spot a turtle shuffling off the edge into the grasses. Though it wasn’t necessary for me to hop out to move him, I hopped out anyway, with my camera. The warm sun had kicked his metabolism into high gear, and he had no intentions of just pulling into his shell and waiting for me to finish playing with him. He dug his claws in and motored away from me. Even when I picked him up and moved him back to the open road to try for a photo, he was too quick to get anything but his backside as he turned away from me and ran off again. When I picked him up to hold him for the camera, he looked boldly right at me. I’m calling it a him, but I admit that none of the photos I took clearly show the characteristics that would separate a him from a her: presence or absence of a notch in the back of the shell, and the position of the cloaca underneath the tail. A notched shell and the cloaca partway down the tail would make this a him. It’s still a tad early for females to be out looking for nest sites, but if this was a male then he might be on the hunt for females to mate with; I’m not sure what the “gestation” time is for a turtle. Raven found a Painted Turtle at the lake house last year, and I wrote more about it, including other notes on behaviour and physical characteristics, in this post.
9 thoughts on “Painted Turtle”
Based on the length of nails on the front claws, I’d say your hunch is correct—this is a male. The boys use ’em to tickle the ladies during courtship.
Thanks for the input, Gavan. I knew that about males, but I don’t think I’ve seen enough to know what’s long and what’s not… and to be honest, I completely forgot to check sex while the turtle was there.
Love the photo! He certainly wasn’t worried about you–other than you were totally interfering with his day.
He clearly had places to go and turtles to see, Jason.
The bottom shell, the plastron, of males is concave. Females are flat bottomed.
Thanks for that info, Kirk! I suppose that has something to do with the awkwardness of mating.
Seabrooke – I have a moth egg mass that I would like to see if you can ID. I am unable to use your email link because of the nature of this computer (I’m not on Outlook). Could you email me (see my adress above) so I can send you a copy of the photo? Thanks bunches – Ellen
I can give it my best shot, Ellen, though I’ll be honest that egg masses aren’t my specialty. You can send it to canadianowlet AT gmail DOT com.
He seems most happy to look straight into the camera for a great head shot. Love those red accents – great-looking turtle.