Baby Turtle! Squee!

We had a group of middle and high school students on site today (I taught a lesson on identifying trees with dichotomous keys), and one of the kids found this little treasure.

This is a western painted turtle, Chrysemys picta bellii. (Other subspecies don’t have that gorgeous red and black pattern on the plastron, the lower shell.) It probably recently emerged from a nest laid in late summer or early fall last year; this far north, hatchlings overwinter in the nest and emerge in early spring.

After I took its portrait I released it on a wooded bank near the pond. I wish it well.

12 thoughts on “Baby Turtle! Squee!”

  1. Rebecca.

    I appreciate your efforts. My mind does NOT do botany.

    Small plants are “grass”, medium plants are “bushes”, large plants are “trees”.

    Trees are either “a pine tree” or “not a pine tree”.

    1. Ha. Well, I’d offer to email you the simple key we used for the class, but the species would be all wrong for Missouri. To teach the kids how to use a dichotomous key, I had them all take of one of their shoes and make a big pile of them at the front of the room, and then we worked together to make a key on the whiteboard identifying the owner of each shoe.

      1. I have commented on this elswhere but would love a key to trees an bushes. I have the same turte type you saved and am trying rehab him. His shell is 1 inch and he was injured I think he might be blind with his eyes bulged out. New pet I guess?!!

  2. My cousin in SAouth Australia has a native turtle that’s hung around her pond for years. She has a collection of the plates on the carapace that the turtle has “shed” over that time. I didn’t realise they did that until she showed me.

    1. Yeah – the individual plates are called scutes, and when I was taking care of captive turtles as part of my job in Georgia I was really alarmed the first time one flaked off in my hand!

  3. We found a baby turtle yesterday on the sidewalk. He was injured and bleeding. He is a Western Painted turtle. Native to our region in Spokane WA. We no nothing about them but his eyes are still bugged out after 24 hours of tender loving care. If there is a chart for trees and bushes I would love to learn them. I am turning 50 in June and still love to learn and teach the younger generation. I also need to find out about the turtle and what to feed and habitat him in for rehabilitation. I think he might be blind with how his eyes bulge out still. He does respond to our voices and lifts his head up now. He is only 1 inch long on his shell. I fell in love. He got to feel love before he may have and still could die from it all but responding to our voices and lifting his head when we talk to him. I need to learn a lot about him I have never had a turtle. I rehabilitated a sparrow and let it back into the wild once she was able to fly again. I also did the same for an Australian Zebra finch that had itself in what we call gut trucks. The trucks have warmers for food and he was in it. He also is back in the wild. Plus years ago some red robins were injured, I rehabed them and back to the wild

    1. I did a little Googling and found this website, which has a drop-down menu for Washington counties on the right that will get you contact info for a licensed wildlife rehabber in your area: You should be able to find someone who can advise you about the turtle. As for a key to trees and shrubs, I’m sure you can find something useful if you look – like I told George, the one I was using here wouldn’t be much use to you because it’s specific to the most common trees found in this area (northern Wisconsin, very different from the Pacific Northwest).

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by!

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