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|Identification: Shell hard, smooth, somewhat
flattened; bright yellow lines on head and limbs; lower shell orange or
reddish, with dark markings (most conspicuous in juveniles); upper shell
often with narrow yellow lines (less yellow in larger individuals), less
often with network of dark lines; upper jaw notched at tip; upper shell of
female up to about 25 cm (9.8 inches), though rarely more than 21 cm (8
inches); males much smaller.
Mature male: Vent located beyond rear edge of upper shell carapace when tail is extended; claws on front feet very long; lower shell flat.
Mature female: Vent at or inside rear edge of carapace when tail is extended; claws on front feet relatively short.
Hatchling: Upper shell keeled; lower shell vivid
orange/red, with a central dark figure having a sinuous outer
Throughout most of eastern Colorado,
locally in La Plata and Archuleta counties in southwestern Colorado. Introduced
and established in several areas in western Colorado. Common.
Habitat: Permanent ponds, reservoirs, marshes,
river backwaters, slow-moving streams, and nearby temporary waters such as those
that are seasonally flooded. Favors waters with a soft bottom, abundant aquatic
vegetation, and partially submerged logs or other places for basking. Often many
bask on a single log.
Nests in sunny areas up to several
hundred yards from water. A female may lay more than one clutch of eggs in a
single year and may skip a year between nestings. Most hatchlings overwinter in
the nest and emerge the following spring.