Southern Painted Turtle

Chrysemys dorsalis


The Southern Painted Turtle is a medium-sized turtle with gray-black carapace scutes and a red or orangeish line down the center of the shell. This species can be found in various water bodies in the northern half of the state (Powell et al., 2016). Heads are often marked with yellow or red colors.

C. dorsalis, Newton Co. (MS), © Grover Brown

Identifying Traits

  • Red middorsal line on carapace


Various water bodies in natural and urban areas.


Often found basking in ponds in urban and more natural areas, can be locally abundant


Various invertebrates, aquatic vegetation

Adult female basking in early spring, Stoddard Co. (MO)
Juvenile Southern Painted Turtle emerged from the water, St. Martin Par. (LA), © CJ Hillard