Yesterday around noon, I glanced out at my koi pond as I often do, and saw the most amazing thing. A turtle! At first I thought, ‘not another snapping turtle’. But on closer inspection it turned out to be an Eastern Painted Turtle basking in the sunshine by floating on the surface of the water. How lovely; a welcome resident at last!
Eastern Painted Turtles are truly water turtles, living solely in the water and only leaving it to lay their eggs. She (I am assuming here) was about 6-8 inches, while full size is about that. Her carapace was blackish, but I could not see if her yellow plastron was painted or not. But she did have the telltale yellow and red stripes on her head and neck. She will have already bred in spring and might be here to lay her eggs.
Babies (usually around 10 or less) hatch and dig their way out in 10 weeks. Unfortunately, my fish would have a party with them just as they did with the snapping turtle hatchlings, unless my dogs dug them up first. I’m going to have to think about that. If there are any I will rescue them as I did with the snapping turtle hatchlings unless I think of something better.
Eastern Painted Turtle hatchlings
Turtles eat aquatic plants, berries, tadpoles, worms, leeches, insects, frogs, snails, small fish, and carrion.
Their predators include raccoons, crows, snapping turtles, herons, hawks, large fish, snakes, bullfrogs and foxes. We do have all of those.
They hibernate in the mud at the bottom of ponds in the winter.
I think that she finally arrived because I got rid of the snapping turtle female. I am hoping that she stays and invites her friends. They really are beautiful to see and a wonderful addition to my pond. Unfortunately they are shy and dive back into the water as soon as they sense danger. So I haven’t been able to take a picture and I haven’t seen her again. But, I will keep my eyes open, you can just bet on that.