A colorful aquatic turtle and the smallest painted turtle in North America. The upper shell is olive brown to almost black, with a prominent orange, red, or yellow stripe running down the center of the upper shell. It’s the only painted turtle with the stripe. The outer edge of the shell is often orange, orange-red, or yellow. The lower shell is plain yellow; sometimes there is a faint brown blotch along the center.
Similar species: The western painted turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii) is found through most of the rest of the state. It is similar, but lacks the prominent lengthwise shell stripe. The lower shell has intricate dark markings that follow the plate seams outward from the center.