Western Painted Turtles

Western Painted Turtles

Discover a carapace canvas. We are home to females ‘Martha’, ‘Rey’, ‘Kahlo’, and ‘Phasma’.

Bright colours swimming through fresh water

The western painted turtle is the largest subspecies of painted turtle, with a shell that can be 10 inches long. Identified by the red and orange stripes on their shell and body, and yellow stripes on the head and neck, these turtles make their homes in slow-moving water with soft, muddy bottoms and vegetation, such as marshes, ponds, creeks, and lakes. In the wild, they overwinter in bodies of water, but here at the zoo, they spend the colder months in our Administration building.


  • IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern (at relatively low risk of extinction)
  • Type: Reptile
  • Habitat: Bodies of freshwater from southern Canada to northern Mexico
  • Diet: Omnivore – fish, plants, and invertebrates
  • Size: 5 to 10 inches long
  • Weight: 800 to 1400 grams

Care & Conservation

How we care for them

At the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo, we are bringing together our passion for plants and animals with our dedication to taking and inspiring action to sustain wildlife and wild places.
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facts about our animals

Fun Facts about Western Painted Turtles

Turtles shed their scutes (shell scales) on their shells as they grow, which allows their shells to grow with them.

The sex of a turtle is determined by the temperature of the egg, with warmer temperatures producing females and cooler temperatures producing males.

Western painted turtles can survive temperatures as low as –10 degrees Celsius in their nests.

Being cold-blooded, turtles must regulate their temperature by basking in the sun.

The western painted turtle is the only turtle native to Alberta.

Turtles don’t have teeth, but have horned ridges on their upper and lower jaws which they chew with.


How you can help

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Plan Your Visit

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It’s time to make some memories. Here’s everything you need to know to plan an unforgettable day at the zoo.