[Tweeters] Chelonian question

mcallisters4 at comcast.net mcallisters4 at comcast.net
Thu Oct 21 11:11:37 PDT 2021

The question of whether Painted Turtles are native to the Puget Sound lowlands comes up from time to time. I invested a considerable amount of time looking at the historic record. While Western Pond Turtles are documented from as far back as the 1850s around Fort Nisqually, Painted Turtles weren't documented from the Puget lowlands until 1930 and their earliest occurrences were from urban areas. The pattern is consistent with release of turtles transported and released by people living in and around our earliest urban centers. I'd welcome any evidence otherwise but, for now, I'm convinced that Painted Turtles are native to eastern Washington, probably extending to western Washington only where there was a more or less continuous low elevation connection to eastern Washington, the area around Vancouver where there was a connection through the Columbia River gorge.

Kelly McAllister

-----Original Message-----
From: Tweeters <tweeters-bounces at mailman11.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of dgrainger at birdsbydave.com
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2021 9:37 AM
To: Stan Bezimienny <grzebiuszkaziemna at gmail.com>
Cc: Tweeters <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] Chelonian question

My understanding is that the Western Painted turtle is a native and not introduced species. Western Pond turtle is the other native, although I have not personally seen those.

Down at Ridgefield you can find literal stacks two and three deep, of all sizes, sunning on semi submerged logs in wet areas. I have photographed Western Painteds at Nisqually as well.

On 2021-10-20 15:01, Stan Bezimienny wrote:

> Hi Gary,


> I have seen 3 species of turtles in Juanita Bay:


> 1. red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) 2. painted turtle

> (Chrysemys picta) 3. spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera)


> All 3 are introduced pets, long living but likely non-breeding.


> 1. Common, invasive, older specimens can be completely black. I’ve

> seen them as late as 12/24, rather cold tolerant 2. Less frequently

> seen, mostly spring 3. At least 2 huge specimens, seen in late spring,

> 2 years in a row


> Have pictures to illustrate. All 3 species are reasonably easy to tell

> apart.

> 2. Is native to WA, but I think the JBP are released pets.


> Stan

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