State Reptile of Colorado

State Reptile of Colorado

The Western Painted Turtle Was designated the official State Reptile of Colorado in 2008. Jay Baichi’s two classes (2007-2008) researched Colorado reptiles and decided that the western painted turtle was most representative of Colorado reptiles. The 4th graders began the process to promote the adoption of a reptile As Colorado State Reptile in 2007. The next year students completed the necessary legal Steps For State Reptile and Governor Ritter signed HB 08-1017 on March 18, 2008, naming the western painted turtle as Colorado’s reptile symbol.

The Painted Turtle Ranging in size from 2″ to just under 10″, this hard-shelled turtle gets its name from bright red and/or orange markings on the underbelly. Colorado State Reptile is also identifiable by the bright yellow lines on the neck, head, and limbs. Females Western Painted Turtle has shells that are typically larger (up to 9.8″) than males of the species. State Reptile of Colorado Painted turtles enter a period of hibernation during the winter months, emerging as early as February in the southern portion of its range and as late as May in the north.


“Western Painted Turtle”

Family: Emydidae

Adult Size: The western painted turtle is the largest of the four subspecies and attains a carapace length of up to 7 inches.

Range: Painted turtles are one of the most common turtles in North America and are found from southern Canada to northern Mexico. This State Reptile of Colorado turtle lives in ponds, lakes, marshes, and in slow-moving rivers that have soft, muddy bottoms.

Habitat: The western Colorado State Reptile painted turtle is rather adaptable and is known to occur in prairie pothole wetlands as well as river floodplains and oxbows. Smaller dispersed populations have been confirmed in southwestern Colorado’s La Plata and Archuleta counties and some sightings have been reported in Moffat, Garfield, and Mesa counties.

Captive Lifespan: More than 20 Years

Care Level: Beginner



  1. They can hold their breath a long time. Most painted turtles hibernate on the bottom of ponds and lakes, holding their breath all winter.
  1. You can count the rings on a painted turtle to see its age, just like a tree. The shell of a painted turtle is made up of 13 bone plates, called scutes. When the Colorado State Reptile turtle grows, it sheds the outside layer of its scutes and grows new plates underneath.


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