Nearly all turtles bask in the sun, but the sunbathing habit is especially marked among Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta), who often pile on top of one another on a favorite log. The Painted Turtle is North America’s most wide-ranging turtle and is found from southern Canada to northern Mexico. Although the needs of pet turtles vary according to species, most require a varied diet (“turtle food” is not adequate), a clean tank, a basking spot and an understanding of their habits.
Painted turtles may live as long as 35 to 40 years. The sunning helps rid them of parasitic leeches. In many areas, turtles hibernate during the winter months by burrowing into the mud and allowing their bodies to become very cold. Painted turtles feed mainly on plants, small animals, such as fish, crustaceans, aquatic insects, and some carrion. Painted Turtles can be a source of bacteria in the genus Salmonella. This is why it is illegal to sell small turtles as pets in the United States.