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The painted turtle, Chrysemys picta, is a common turtle in North America; it is also called the painted terrapin. This reptile lives in ponds, lakes, marshes,and slow-moving rivers that have soft, muddy bottoms. In the wild, this turtle lives from 5 to 10 years; in captivity it can live over 20 years.

Behavior: Although it spends most of its time in the water, the painted turtle often suns itself while lying on a log, a rock, or the shore. These turtles are often seen in large groups.

Hibernation: During very cold weather, northern painted turtles hibernate, burying themselves for months in the mud beneath streams and ponds.

Anatomy: The are many subspecies of painted turtles which vary in size, coloration and plastron pattern (the plastron is the lower shell). The painted turtle has a hard upper shell (the carapace), which is from 4 to 7 inches (10-18 cm) long. The webbed feet are used for swimming.

Diet: The painted turtle is an omnivore (it eats both meat and plants). The young eat mostly meat. Adults eat both animals (including insects, snails, slugs, crayfish, leeches, mussels, tadpoles, frogs, fish eggs, small fish, and dead animals that it finds) and plants (including duckweed, algae, and lily pads).

Predators: Raccoons, skunks, opossums, birds, snakes, and some other large turtles prey upon the painted turtle; the young are especially vulnerable to predators.

Reproduction: The female lays 5 to 10 eggs in each clutch. The eggs are laid in a shallow pit that she digs with her hind legs. She covers the eggs with sand or dirt, and then abandons them. The eggs hatch in about 10 to 11 weeks.

Classification: Kingdom Animalia (animals), phylum Chordata, class Reptilia (reptiles), order Testudines (terrapins and tortoises), family Emydidae, genus Pseudomys, species P. picta.

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