Midland Painted Turtle: Ultimate Guide

Male vs Female

When it comes to identifying the differences between a male midland painted turtle and a female midland painted turtle, there are a few biological indicators that can help you to discern their gender. One of the most prominent differences between the two genders is the shape of their shells, with the female shell usually being more dome-like than her male counterpart. 

Male midland painted turtles are typically distinguished by their flat and smooth shells, as well as their front claws and tails, which tend to be longer than those of females. Another primary difference between the genders is their size, with the male often being smaller than the more rambunctious females. 


Currently, there are four known species of painted turtle residing on the North American continent, with the midland painted turtle bearing a significant resemblance to the other three species. Because of this, the midland painted turtle can be very difficult to distinguish from its various cousins, which can often lead to confusion. 

However, there is a way to identify the midland painted turtle, which involves examining the distinctive patterns on the bottom of its shell. Unlike other painted turtle varieties, the midland painted turtle is known to feature a dark patch in the centre of its stomach, which can vary in colour, size and shape. 

As a Pet

Midland painted turtles are often kept as pets and are considered to be a popular choice among first-time turtle keepers. The species is known for its tame and docile nature, they are also hardy creatures and are known to be very enjoyable to watch. 

Although they are often purchased by first-time owners, midland painted turtles do require a lot of care and attention, so the decision to adopt one should not be taken lightly. If you wish to learn more about caring for these animals, then we recommend going to the “care” section of this guide. 


Although midland painted turtles are known to mature at a very young age, this does not mean that they are incapable of living long and rich lives. In the wild, midland painted turtles have been known to live for around 35 to 40 years. However, their lifespans are usually cut short due to nature and predators. 

When kept in captivity, the average lifespan of the species is around 30 years, although they are known to live much longer when they are properly cared for. 


Midland painted turtles are aquatic creatures, which means they have adapted in a way that has made them efficient swimmers. This is evident in their flat shells and webbed feet, which they can use to glide through the water with precision and ease. 

Because midland painted turtles are often the victims of vicious predators, they also have the adaption of a protective shell, which they can hide inside when faced with potential danger. 

Breeding Season

In the wild, male and female midland painted turtles are known to reach sexual maturity at different ages, with the common age for males being 3-5 years. While females take longer to grow and will usually reach sexual maturity at 6-10 years. 

Midland painted turtles will usually begin to breed after they have hibernated and when the waters are still low in temperature. This means that the breeding season usually lasts from late spring to early summer, with female midland painted turtles being known to nest from May until July. 


As we have previously mentioned in the section above, female midland painted turtles will usually nest from May until July. These females are known to lay their eggs in nest cavities, which are essentially small caverns dug into the dirt or sand. 

Female midland painted turtles prefer to build their nests in sunny areas that are located close to the water’s edge and will usually lay between 4 to 20 soft-shelled eggs. Once the eggs have been delivered, the mother turtle will cover them with sand and then return to the water. 

The eggs will usually take around 70 to 80 days to hatch, but once the baby turtles have been born they will have complete independence, as midland painted turtles are expected to mature without any parental involvement. 

Growth Rate

The growth rate of midland painted turtles varies between each specimen, but they will typically stop growing once they have reached sexual maturity. As we have previously mentioned, male and female midland painted turtles stop maturing at vastly different ages, which means they often differ in size and shape. 

Male midland turtles are known to stop growing at 3-5 years, while females will continue to grow until they reach maturity at around 6-10 years. Because the maturing process takes longer for females, they often reach larger sizes than their male counterparts. 

The average size of a male midland painted turtle usually falls between 4-5 inches, while females have been known to reach sizes of 7-8 inches. It may not seem like a lot, but that is a huge difference in the turtle world. 

Life Cycle

As we have previously discussed in the former sections, female midland painted turtles are known to grow at a much faster rate than males. The reason for this is because they need to be larger to reach their sexual maturity. 

In most instances, female midland painted turtles can take 6 years to reach full maturity, with some even taking closer to 10 years to finish the process. This is why they grow at a faster rate in comparison to males, who grow slower but typically mature at the age of 3 years old. 


Painted turtles as a species are known to be one of the most populous in the world, with it being estimated that the density of the population ranges from 10 to 840 turtles per hectare (2.5 acres) of water surface. 

Although there is no way we can discern how many of that number are midland painted turtles, the fact that the numbers are so high is greatly positive. Not only does it demonstrate the fertility of the painted turtle species, but it also ensures that they are far from extinction. 


In the wild, midland painted turtles are known to eat a variety of different foods, which usually include aquatic plants and small animals such as fish, insects and crustaceans. However, the midland painted turtle is not known to be predatory and will usually only eat other animals when given the opportunity. 

In captivity, you can give your midland painted turtle a selection of foods that help it maintain a balanced diet. These foods will usually include crickets, earthworms, fish and pet store reptile pellets. 


Although midland painted turtles are perfectly capable of living for up to 40 years of age, their lifespans are sadly cut short due to a variety of predators they can encounter in the wild.

The most common predators that have been known to capture and devour midland painted turtles are racoons, northern river otters, red foxes and American minks. 

Unfortunately, midland painted turtles have also been known to suffer greatly at the hand of human intervention, with female midland painted turtles often being killed by cars and other vehicles. This is because the females of the species prefer to lay their eggs in the soft and workable soil often found along the sides of roads and highways. 

Midland painted turtles are highly vigilant creatures, which means they will often seek refuge in the water whenever they feel threatened or under attack. They can also retract their heads and limbs into their protective shells when faced with a charging predator. 

Roaming Range

The roaming range of midland painted turtles can vary depending on the turtle, although it is very rare that the species will travel further than 6km from their home. Midland painted turtles will only travel long distances if their current environment no longer meets their needs, which again is considered a rare occurrence. 


Unfortunately, midland painted turtles in captivity are very prone to a variety of diseases and health problems, which can occur whenever they are underfed or not properly cared for.

One of the most common health problems faced by midland painted turtles is metabolic bone disease, a condition that takes place when your turtle does not receive enough calcium or UVB light. 

Midland painted turtles can also suffer from conditions such as intestinal parasites, infections caused by dirty water, abscesses and hypovitaminosis A – which is known to affect midland painted turtles who have not been put on a balanced diet. 

Eye Color

Unlike other species of painted turtles who have a variety of eye colors, midland painted turtles will typically only have yellow eyes, which are punctuated with a horizontal bar that runs through the center of the turtle’s pupil. 


In the wild, midland painted turtles are known to hibernate when the water in their environment begins to grow cold. They do this by submerging themselves in water and covering their bodies with mud from the bottom of their habitat.

During the winter months, the turtle can stay in this condition by absorbing oxygen through its skin, mouth and cloaca. 

If you are keeping a midland painted turtle as a pet, then chances are it will never have to go into hibernation, as you can control the warmth and temperature of its environment. 

Can They Swim?

Midland painted turtles are aquatic creatures, which means they have evolved to live effectively in underwater environments. Not only do these turtles spend most of their time swimming in rivers and swamps, but they have flat shells and webbed feet to move through the water with ease. 

However, this does not mean that they spend all of their time in the water, as the species has been known to seek dry land for basking in the sun. 


If you are keen on keeping a midland painted turtle as a pet, then you need to make sure you have everything the turtle needs to live a long and comfortable life.

One of the most important tools to keep a turtle is its enclosure, which should contain a large amount of water for swimming. The midland painted turtle will also need a level or dry land so that they can bask in the rays of a UVB light. 

Midland painted turtles are also known to be very messy creatures, who produce large amounts of faeces and food waste. To make sure your turtle is not being exposed to any harmful bacteria, you will need to make sure that you are cleaning out your turtle’s tank at least once a month, or more if you have the time. 


The price of a midland painted turtle can vary depending on the store or breeder you have purchased it from. These days painted turtles can be readily purchased from prices between $20-$40. You should always make sure that your turtle has been bred in captivity, otherwise, it could have been taken from the wild and be more prone to fatalities. 

Fun Facts

  • Did you know that a turtle’s shell contains 60 different bones! If you look at a turtle’s shell you may notice a ridge running from their heads to their tails, this is actually where their backbone is.