Nanaimo Buttertubs Western Painted Turtle News

New signs have been put up at Buttertubs Marsh recently. Two areas have signs that read:
Species at Risk
Western Painted Turtle
Nest area

Western Painted Turtle signs Nanaimo
Western Painted Turtle signs at Nanaimo Buttertubs Marsh

The Western Painted Turtle is the only native pond turtle left in B.C.  This unique turtle is named after the bright yellow stripes on its head, neck, tail and legs, and the glowing red on its underside. Painted Turtles have webbed hind feet, and slender claws on their front feet.  Males have much longer claws than females.

Painted turtles can grow to over 30 cm in length. Most adult Painted Turtles spend the winter hibernating in the mud at the bottom of ponds and lakes. In June or July, female turtles lay 6 to 18 oval eggs, about 3 cm long or the length of a two-dollar coin, in a carefully prepared nest.   Nests are built between dusk and dawn.

Females are very watchful for predators. Once the eggs are laid, the female fills the nest with soil, compacting it with her feet and plastron, and then covering it with vegetation and debris. If predators do not find the nest, the baby turtles break out of their eggs around September. Even though their shallow nests can reach –5 degrees C, most hatchlings stay in the nest until the following spring.

Survival is quite low due to weather variations plus predation of eggs and hatchlings. Female Painted Turtles only reproduce about every second year, and when they do reproduce, they lay one batch of eggs in the summer. They like to eat insects, snails, earthworms, frogs, tadpoles and algae.

Western Painted Turtle - Linley Valley West
Western Painted Turtle – Linley Valley West

Many people worked hard to try and save important wetland areas in Linley Valley West where these turtles live, but the lack of action by Nanaimo City Council has led to the unnecessary decimation of the turtles in that valley.

Team Save Linley Valley West had a bio-inventory of almost 300 acres of Linley Valley West which confirmed the area’s “high overall conservation value” as home to sensitive ecosystems and threatened species. Included in the list was the Western Painted Turtle which had nesting sites adjacent to the ponds at Linley Valley West now destroyed.