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Turtles in Colorado

Types Of Turtles in Colorado

There ar 5 types of turtles in Colorado and is home to incredible wildlife and has 41 state wildlife parks.

Often the turtle is an overlooked animal within the United States, however the United States hosts close to 100 species of turtles – which is the most species any country in the world has.

As mentioned above there are 5 species in particular that are native to CO. Four of those five species are aquatic, and one is a terrestrial species.

  1. Yellow Mud Turtle
  2. Common Snapping Turtle
  3. Western Painted Turtle
  4. Ornate Box Turtle
  5. Spiny Softshell Turtle

1. Yellow Mud Turtle

Yellow Mud Turtle
Yellow Mud Turtle

Quick Facts

  • Experience level: Beginner
  • Family: Kinosternidae
  • Scientific Name: Kinosternon flavescens
  • Common Name: Yellow Mud Turtle
  • Average Adult Size: 5-7 inches
  • Life Span: 30-50 years
  • Average Price Range: Approximately $179
  • Conservation Status: Least concern

As their name implies, Yellow Mud Turtles prefer to stay in bodies of water with soft mud such as rivers, swamps, lakes, and marshes. Their shells vary between olive green, brown and black, and they get to between 5 and 7 inches big.

They can be found in the eastern side of Colorado and make great pets as they are easy to handle and low maintenance. Diets consist of both vegetation and animals such as fish, snails and insects.

2. Common Snapping Turtle

Common snapping turtle on wooden deck with bushes around
Common snapping turtle on wooden deck with bushes around

Quick facts

  • Experience level: Intermediate
  • Family: Chelydridae
  • Scientific Name: Chelydra Serpentina
  • Common Name: Snapping Turtle
  • Average Adult Size: 12-15 inches, in some cases they can reach 19 inches
  • Life Span: 30 – 50 years
  • Average Price Range: Approximately $25-60
  • Conservation Status: Least concern

The Common Snapping Turtle has an aggressive temperament, which is where they have gotten their name from. They are a part of the Chelydra Serpentina family, and this references their serpent-like behaviour.

Their temperament makes them a more difficult pet to own as they have been known to snap viciously at their owners.

Shells range from brown to black and their appearance is fairly dark in colour. Their necks, legs and tails are longer than the average turtles, and they typically get to 12 – 15 inches and sometimes get to 19 inches big.

Snappers are usually just beneath the surface of the bodies of water they are found in. They are omnivorous and will hunt anything that they can swallow including vegetation.

Interestingly, the Snapping Turtle has been a symbol of New York since 2006.

3. Western Painted Turtle

chrysemys picta belli (western painted turtle)
chrysemys picta belli (western painted turtle)

Quick facts

  • Experience level: Beginner
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Chrysemys picta
  • Common Name: Painted Turtle
  • Average Adult Size: 4-10 inches
  • Life Span: 20-30 years
  • Average Price Range: Approximately $55
  • Conservation Status: Least concern

The Western Painted Turtle is a subspecies of the Painted Turtle. They looked like they’ve been painted and have olive, red and yellow stripes along their bodies. They are a smaller turtle compared to some other species.

They are aquatic and have been known to sleep at the bottom of ponds, and are capable of hibernating in cold climates. Western Painted Turtle are most active in warmer climates.

Preferred habitats are in freshwater and they are omnivorous. Their diets consist of both plant life and aquatic insects.

Western painted turtles are the most common turtle species in Colorado and can be found quite easily. Because of their markings they’re easy to identify.

Gender is determined by the temperature of their environment during their development. In case you are unsure what your turle is, use our gender guide to find out.

As they are smaller in size, the Western Painted Turtle is more vulnerable to predators in the wild. They’re easier pets to own as they have a calmer temperament.

4. Ornate Box Turtle

Female Ornate Box Turtle on patio
Female Ornate Box Turtle on patio

Quick facts

  • Experience level: Intermediate
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Terrapene ornata ornata
  • Common Name: Ornate Box Turtle
  • Average Adult Size: 5-7 inches
  • Life Span: 40 – 60 years
  • Average Price Range: Approximately $30 – 100
  • Conservation Status: Near Threatened

The Ornate Box Turtles is a subspecies of the Box Turtle. Their name is derived from their protection mechanism where they draw their heads and legs into their shell, and appear like a box.

Over the years their habitat has been threatened and they have been caught in the wild to be sold within the pet trade or for their meat, which has led them to be given the “Near Threatened” status.

Females are bigger, and their shells are typically brown with yellow stripe/s. Despite being slightly more difficult as pets, they are still a popular pet to own.

Setups are one aspect that make these turtles more difficult and also the upfront cost of a complete tank including lighting, filters, accessories, and so on.

They can also be more difficult for children as they are a shy pet, and wild caught turtles do not cope well with captivity. Captive bred Ornate Box Turtles cope better as pets.

Diet wise they are omnivorous as most turtles are, and eat berries and insects.

5. Spiny Softshell Turtle

spiny softshell turtle (apalone spinifera)
spiny softshell turtle (apalone spinifera)

Quick facts

  • Experience level: Intermediate/expert
  • Family: Trionychidae
  • Scientific Name: Apalone spinifera
  • Common Name: Spiny Softshell Turtle
  • Average Adult Size: 5 – 20 inches
  • Life Span: 40 – 60 years
  • Average Price Range: Approximately $50 – 150
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Spiny Softshell Turtle is flatter in their shape and easily distinguished with their snort-like nose. Their shells are olive, or light to dark brown in colour. Their feet are webbed, and they have three claws.

Most of their diet consists of insects, smaller aquatic animals and snails – they are carnivorous unlike other species of turtles.

Males are smaller than their female counterparts ranging between 5 – 10 inches while females typically range between 9-20 inches big. They are the more popular subspecies of the softshell to be kept as pets.

Conclusion

That about sums it up for Colorado turtles. It’s a beautiful state with interesting wildlife. Most of the turtle species that are native to Colorado are not endangered and fall into the least concerned status. There are five species that live within Colorado, who each possess unique attributes.

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