Painted Turtle Care Sheet

General Information:   

The Painted Turtle is a very hardy species. They require similar care to that of the famous red eared slider, yet, they grow at a much smaller decent size (depending on gender and sub species). They are distributed all around North America, into Canada and Mexico. The Western Painted Turtle is found in British Columbia south to Missouri, northern Oklahoma, eastern Colorado, Idaho and northern Oregon. The Eastern Painted Turtle is found southeast of Canada to New England, Georgia, and Alabama. Midland’s range from central US to Quebec, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia. Finally Southern Painted’s range from Illinois, Missouri, down the Mississippi river and into Alabama and Louisiana


In general, the painted turtle’s diet consist of heavy protein foods including fish, insects, snails, crayfish, slugs, tadpoles, and aquatic plant matter. Though the diet can relate to the RES diet, in which painted turtles are omnivorous, being carnivorous during their youth stage and turning herbivorous as they mature, the diet consist more of a protein based one with more carnivores touch to it… In other words, its easier for people to keep up with a good diet for the painted. (though RES have basically the same needs, they require and eat more vegetation matter as they get older, which, can be “sometimes” a problem for some people).


Painted Turtles prefer calmer shallow waters from ponds, creeks, lakes, and marshes. They are very adequate basking turtles. Painted Turtles are very hardy when it comes to temperatures. Again, like the red eared slider, preferred temperatures are mid 70’s for the water and mid to high 80’s, low 90’s, for the basking site. Indoor habitats are basically easy to replicate and includes no other special requirements that differ from the general care of common turtles (Ex. Sliders, Cooters, and similar common species).

As Pets

As pets, I say painted turtles are a A++ species. I don’t know how much I can mention how hardy these guys are, with awesome color patterns and personalities. They grow at decent sizes, smaller then most other Slider turtles yet require non-complicated care (speaking in turtle terms). Any slider turtle care information can be applied to painted turtles, making them ideal beginner turtles.

Over-look on Captivity Requirements:

Indoor Habitat: Depending on gender and sub-species, 1 adult painted turtle can be kept in minimum size tanks of 20-30 gallons.

Habitat Requirements: Adequate swimming space, basking area, good filtration, submersible heater for temps. of 76-78ºF, UVB ray producing light, heat lamp. Read Tanks & Equipment page.

Diet: Healthy balanced Diet, based on more protein foods.

Other Special Care: No

Important Information:

  • Water pH level: lowest: 6.0, highest 7.0 (though very small slight variations won’t hurt)
  • Water temperature: 76-78ºF
  • Basking Area temp: high 80’s, low 90’s
  • Air temperature: mid 80’s

Size Averages of Subspecies:

  • Western Painted: Females: 7-10″ Males: 4-7″
  • Eastern Painted: Females: 6-8″ Males: 3-6″
  • Midland Painted: Females: 6-8″ Males: 4-6″
  • Southern Painted: Females: “5-7″ Males: 3-5”

I am the editor-in-chief at I have been a reptile enthusiast for over a decade, and during this time I have kept and bred a variety of different reptiles such as bearded dragons, geckos, and chameleons. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and experience with others to help them provide the best care possible for their pet reptiles.

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