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Contest for kids!

Wednesday, 09 June 2021. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Contest for kids!
Have you ever seen a painted turtle?

Do you like to draw, colour or paint?

Children between the ages of one and six are invited to submit their western painted turtle art and a chance to win a copy of 1,2,3 ... Turtles for Me, a book by Pincher Creek author Jody Best.

Age categories are one to four years and five to six years.

The top entry in each category will win a copy of the book.

Winning entries will be published in Shootin' the Breeze and all entries will be included in an online post.

Submissions must be emailed to publisher@shootinthebreeze.ca by June 30, 2021.

Please include a high-quality image of the art project, your child's name, age and contact information.

Winner will be notified by email and posted online on July 7.

Thanks to all who participate!

Learn more about painted turtles below ...


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Species spotlight:
western painted turtles

By Jody Best


Basking in the sun, watching spring creep over the landscape, I wonder if the western painted turtles have woken from their winter slumber and surfaced from their muddy beds. I can’t wait to watch them from my kayak! Getting near enough to achieve a close, clear image with my camera is a challenge I really enjoy.

Painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) are named for the intricate green and yellow colour patterns on their bodies, particularly the neck and head. The western painted turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii) is the largest and most decorated of the four subspecies, with red, green and yellow patterns on the bottom of its shell as well.

Description: Painted turtles are in the reptile family. They are cold-blooded, like other reptiles, which means they are not able to regulate their own body temperature. Instead, their temperature varies with the environment they live in.

Western painted turtles have an olive-green to black top shell or back, called a carapace. The underside of the shell, or belly area, is called a plastron, and is covered with red, green and tan to yellow designs. Legs are dark green to black-looking, and may have some yellow striping or stippling. Head and neck are striped dark green and yellow/tan. The shell of a western painted turtle can be 25 centimetres long or greater.

All four feet are clawed, though the claws on the front feet may be longer than those on the back feet. In contrast, while it appears from my photos that all four feet are webbed, the webbing is much more significant on the back feet than the front feet.

Range and habitat: Painted turtles range across Canada and down through the United States into Mexico. However, of the four subspecies, the western painted turtle is the only one that lives in Western Canada, from British Columbia east to Ontario. The western painted turtle is the only turtle species native to Alberta.

Western painted turtles prefer habitats with abundant basking sites and vegetation. They may be found in ponds, lakes, marshes and slow-moving streams. A waterbody with a muddy bottom is required for the turtles to successfully hibernate.

Painted turtles require good nesting sites composed of unvegetated, loose, well-drained soil up to 150 metres from the edge of the waterbody.

Basking sites, where they can get out of the water to sit in the sun, are also required. These can be rocks, beaches, logs, reed mats or any other features that allow the turtles to get out of the water.

Foraging: Painted turtles are omnivores, and can eat a wide variety of foods. Young turtles eat tadpoles, crayfish and snails. Painted turtles also eat insects, earthworms, algae, fish, frogs, aquatic plants and carrion. Depending on what is available, mature turtles often eat more vegetation, while young turtles are often more carnivorous.

Behaviour and habits: Painted turtles hibernate in the mud at the bottom of the waterbody through the winter. In the spring, when the water warms enough, and the ice is gone, they emerge.

Courtship occurs in spring, with eggs being laid in June or July. Females reproduce every two years, digging nests on south-facing slopes of loose soil at night. Nests are dug with front legs first, then finished with the back legs down to a depth of one foot.

Between three and 20 eggs are laid, then covered with soil. Eggs usually hatch in September, but young often hibernate in the nest and emerge in the spring. The carapace of a hatchling is typically 2.5 centimetres long (about the size of a quarter).

Basking is very important to painted turtles; it gives them energy for foraging and mating, so they will bask several times per day. Sometimes, if basking sites are too crowded, turtles will climb up on each other and bask in a stack.

Threats: Threats to western painted turtles include loss of wetland habitat, human activity in waterbodies (such as pollution, garbage, infilling, motorized boats, damming and waterfront development), roadkill of female turtles looking for nesting sites, and diseases from release of pet reptiles into the wild.

Survival of hatchlings is also an issue due to nest predation, and winterkill if temperatures are such that hatchlings hibernating in the nest freeze.

The Pacific coast population of western painted turtles is listed as endangered federally, and is blue-listed (vulnerable to habitat loss) in British Columbia. The Intermountain Rocky Mountain population of painted turtles was listed federally as a species of concern, and also blue-listed in British Columbia. In Alberta, western painted turtles have been documented at fewer than six locations.

Tidbits

—Painted turtles often starve to death in captivity. Their shells hide their true body condition. Don’t take one for a pet.

—Turtles commonly carry salmonella bacteria on their skin that can make people very sick.

—Many aquatic creatures rely on a slime layer on their skin to keep out infections. If you touch a turtle or other aquatic species, this slime or biofilm layer will be disrupted and you may put the animal at risk of infection.


Turtle Poster May 26 2021