Midland Painted Turtle Care Sheet
The midland painted turtle is among the best turtles for a novice as they are active, hardy, and easy to care for. These attractive little turtles are but one subspecies of the painted turtle. Other subspecies include the eastern painted turtle, the southern painted turtle, and the western painted turtle.
Quick Reference Section
- Experience Level: Beginner
- Family: Emydidae
- Scientific Name: Chrysemys picta marginata
- Average Adult Size: 4 to 10 inches
- Lifespan: 30 to 40 years
- Clutch Size: 10 eggs
- Egg Incubation Period: 72 to 80 days
- Food: Aquatic turtle food
- Tank Size: 40 to 70 gallons (depending on size)
- Average Temperature: 85°H/75°L
- UVB Lighting: Needed
- Average Price Range: $20 to $60
- Conservation Status: Least Concern on IUCN Red List
Facts and Information
Chrysemys picta marginata (midland painted turtle) is a subspecies of the species Chrysemys picta which belongs to the genus Chrysemys and the family Emydidae.
The genus Chrysemys consists only of painted turtles and the family Emydidae contains several turtles known as pond turtles. The family Emydidae generally contain turtles native to the western hemisphere, in particular, the Americas.
The midland painted turtle is the hardest painted turtle to tell apart as they don’t have any particular distinguishing feature. The plastron of the midland painted turtle, however, has a dark shadow, which is symmetric.
This shadow varies in size and prominence. As with other painted turtles, the edges and underside of their carapace are marked by red stripes. Also, their limbs and head are covered in yellow and red stripes.
These markings seem painted onto the turtle which gives the painted turtle its common name. The length of the midland painted turtle is 4 to 10 inches (10–25 cm).
Midland Painted Turtle Habitat
Midland painted turtles are freshwater turtles and as such do well in freshwater habitats with soft bottoms, plentiful vegetation, and several basking sites.
Their habitats are usually shallow waters with slow currents. The midland painted turtle prefers quiet water bodies such as coves and shores. These shallows are densely vegetated.
The midland painted turtle also has a high tolerance to pollution which allows them to survive and thrive in habitats that other turtles are unable to.
The midland painted turtle requires a large aquarium to reside in as it is an active swimmer. The more space this turtle has, the better. If you can acquire an aquarium that can hold 60 gallons of water, do so.
As this is a very large tank, a tank with a water capacity of 20 to 40 gallons is reasonable and works well. If you plan on housing several turtles, then a large tank helps to prevent territorial aggression.
For hatchlings and juveniles, 10 gallons of water should be adequate. Get a 20 to 40-gallon tank and fill that with 10 gallons of water. As the turtle grows, you can add more water to the aquarium.
To keep the water in the tank clean, it must be filtered continuously with an adequately powered filter. A filter meant for a smaller tank won’t work as well as a filter made for a larger tank.
A powerful filter such as the SunSun HW-302 ensures that the tank is clean at all times. Also, remember to change about a third of the water in the aquarium every week.
You can house the midland painted turtle in a tank without substrate/bedding. While the lack of bedding ensures that the tank is easy to clean and there are no harmful substrates for the turtle to swallow, the tank looks drab with no bedding.
If you must lay down some substrate, it should be something that doesn’t float, mix with water when stirred, and isn’t small enough for the turtle to ingest. Some excellent choices are the Natural slate stones and Nature’s Ocean 12-Inch Coral Base Rocks.
Midland painted turtles tolerate cold temperatures very well. When hibernating during the winter, the midland painted turtle can maintain an average body temperature of 43 F (6 C).
However, to remain active, the midland painted turtle needs to maintain an internal body temperature of 63 to 73 F. As you can tell, this isn’t exceeding high.
To ensure the turtle maintains this body temperature, ensure the water temperature is above 70 F and the air temperature is in the mid-80s. This is achievable at room temperature. You don’t need a water heater.
The basking area set up for the turtle needs a temperature of about 95 F. The turtle can thermoregulate by alternating between the water and the basking area.
You can use a ceramic heat lamp or a mercury vapor lamp to warm up the basking spot. Since ceramic lamps don’t produce light, they can be on throughout the day and the night.
Mercury vapor lamps need to be turned off during the night as they produce light. In addition to a heat lamp, also get a thermometer and a thermostat to prevent the lamp from overheating. A good heat lamp is the BYB Heat Emitter and a good thermostat is the BN-LINK Thermostat Controller.
The midland painted turtle needs UVB light to thrive. UVB is important in the synthesizing of vitamin D3 which is necessary for the formation of bones and shell.
Without enough exposure to UVB, the shell and bones of the turtle can become severely deformed. There is one choice of light I recommend for turtles and reptiles at large and that is the Zoo Med ReptiSun. This fluorescent lamp needs to be changed every 3 months.
Turtles housed outdoors to receive a lot of UV light. This form of UVB light is the best. In addition to UVB light, most keepers also supplement the midland painted turtle’s diet with vitamin D3 supplements.
The turtle needs hiding spots. This ensures that it feels secure and safe. A stressed turtle may lose appetite. You can use decorative accessories to provide hiding spots.
Popular aquarium accessories such as aquatic plants and driftwood not only provide hiding spots, they also naturalize the enclosure. Other hides such as the Penn-Plax Hide-Out are excellent ways to provide hiding spots for the turtle.
Providing a basking site is a must. The midland painted turtle basks frequently. The popular Penn-Plax Reptology Floating Turtle Pier can be used to provide the turtle with enough room to bask. This basking area can be shared with several turtles. Some aquatic tanks even come basking platforms preinstalled.
Feeding the Midland Painted Turtle
Feeding the midland painted turtle is simple as they accept aquatic turtle diets as well as green vegetables. It is important to vary their diet. Feed them insects, shrimps, vegetables, aquatic plants, and commercial turtle diet.
Their main food should be a commercial diet. This is to be supplemented with animal and plant matter. Adapting this feeding strategy ensures they are well fed and healthy.
The turtle diet of your choice should be high in protein and have high calcium to phosphorus ratio. Commercial turtle diets are generally low in fat which is good.
For hatchlings and juveniles, the ReptoMin Baby Turtle Formula Sticks is an excellent choice as it is specifically designed to provide the nutritional needs of young aquatic turtles.
For adults, I recommend Fluker ‘s Aquatic Turtle Diet. Regardless of the turtle diet you choose, ensure it’s high in protein and calcium.
You may be wondering the best plants to feed the midland painted turtle. Well, wonder no more. There are several aquatic plants and vegetables which the midland painted turtle finds edible and enjoyable.
Some of these include dandelion greens, escarole, mustard greens, red leaf lettuce, romaine, collard greens, zucchini, fresh parsley, water lettuce, water hyacinth, water fern, duckweed, hornwort, pondweed, water starwort, and water lilies.
You should also feed them shrimps & krills (freeze-dried), crickets, mealworms, and fish that are low in fat.
Supplement their food with vitamin and calcium supplements.
Feed adult midland painted turtle thrice a week and hatchlings & juveniles every day.
Midland Painted Turtle’s Temperament & Handling
Midland painted turtles are usually accepting of other turtles such as cooters, map turtles and sliders. They also peacefully cohabitate with other painted turtles.
This allows you to build community tanks. With such community tanks, ensure there is plenty of space and plenty of hideouts. This ensures territorial aggression is low.
While it is not advisable to handle turtles as they harbor salmonella and are easily stressed out, painted turtles do not run and hide from humans. As such you can watch them go about their daily routines.
The only time to hold the midland painted turtle is when you need to inspect it for injuries or signs of illness. You may also need to handle/move the turtle when it’s time to clean their enclosure.
Midland Painted Turtle’s Lifespan
The midland painted turtle can live to be 25 to 45 years. While this isn’t as long as the lifespans of most land tortoises, midland painted turtles generally live longer than most domesticated animals such as dogs and cats. It is important to be committed before acquiring a painted turtle.
Common Health Concerns
Signs of a healthy turtle include clear and bright eyes, clear breathing, strong limbs, the turtle should not shy from submerging in water, the presence of no cracks, pits, and wounds, and a desire to escape when picked up (listlessness is usually a bad sign).
Unhealthy midland painted turtles may bask excessively, froth at the mouth, have swollen/sunken eyes, and refuse to enter water. An unhealthy midland painted turtle may also have wounds and cracks in the shell.
Some common health issues include parasites, vitamin A deficiency and metabolic bone disease.
Vitamin D/Calcium deficiency – Inadequate amounts of vitamin D3 and calcium can lead to serious health implications such as grotesquely disfigured shells and limbs.
Unless detected very early and the diet is corrected, these disfigurements are usually permanent. To prevent this, supplement the turtle’s diet with all the needed vitamin D and calcium.
Also, exposure to UVB light helps keep metabolic bone disease at bay. Since most pet turtles are housed indoors, vitamin D deficiency is a major problem.
Parasites -Parasites are very common among wild turtles. However, well-fed and well-kept midland painted turtle hardly ever have parasites.
A newly acquired captive bred turtle may have parasites. The best way to check if your turtle has parasites is to have it inspected by a qualified herp vet. The vet may perform fecal parasite exams.
Regular trips to the vet should ensure that your midland painted turtle is parasite-free and healthy at all times.
Hypovitaminosis A – Vitamin A deficiency is usually the cause of respiratory infections. It is best to supplement the turtle’s food with vitamins and minerals.
Similarly feed the turtle commercial turtle diet helps prevent vitamin deficiency as they are usually enriched with minerals and vitamins.
Pricing and Availability
Midland painted turtles are easy to breed and as such are low in price. They can be found in pet shops across the country. Similarly, they can be found at expos.
Don’t expect to pay too much for the midland painted turtle. Although still relatively common, they are much more difficult than other painted turtle species.
According to the IUCN Red List, the painted turtle isn’t endangered or even vulnerability to being endangered. The painted turtle has a Least Concern status.
While not as popular as the other painted turtles, the beautiful midland painted turtle is easy to care for and as such are ideal for both novice and experienced turtle keepers.
These hardy turtles don’t shy away from humans and peacefully cohabitate with other North American turtles. A similar species to the midland painted turtle is the red-eared slider. If you have any comments on the midland painted turtle, we would love to read them.