What Colors Turtles Come With? [Striking Pictures]

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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More than 300 species and subtypes of turtles have been recognized. Most of these turtles have a distinctive shell and skin colors and patterns. You can find magnificent examples of these patterns, or you might find ones that are fairly unremarkable.

Most turtles are various shades of green, brown, and gray. But they can also possess a number of colors including red, yellow, orange, black, or white with a wide assortment of patterns on their shells, such as circles, stripes, and hieroglyphs.

And not only do turtles come in a wide variety of sizes and colors, but they also come in a wide variety of forms and sizes. In fact, the shells of several species of turtles have vivid designs. Examination of the turtle’s shell, head, and legs can reliably establish its species.

In this article, we’ll take a look at a variety of stunning turtle species, and then examine the phenomenon of color change in other turtles as well as the factors that contribute to the wide range of turtle appearances.

Why Do Turtle Species Have Variable Coloration?

If you were to compare many of the distinct species of turtles, you could be fooled into thinking that they did not all come from the same family. You would not be the only one.

Turtles, like many other kinds of animals that live in different parts of the globe and have their own distinct subspecies, come in a wide variety of forms, sizes, and shapes.

But why does this happen to be the case? The solution to this conundrum is obvious: evolution. Turtles provide an excellent case study if you are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the consequences of evolution.

There are populations of turtles in almost every region of the earth. They were forced to change over the course of many years so that they could continue to live in these locations.

For instance, since there were relatively few predatory animals in the Galapagos Islands, tortoise there were able to obtain a great deal of food and hence grew to be extremely enormous. Because of this, there are Giant Tortoises located there.

Terrapins, on the other hand, spend most of their lives in the Gulf of Mexico, which is home to a diverse array of dangerous animals.

They are able to take advantage of their tiny size and speed, in addition to the acuity of their beaks.

likewise, turtles have been able to camouflage themselves by pigmenting their shells to match their surroundings.

Turtles that inhabit verdant and humid environments have green shells, while turtles that inhabit arid environments have dusty brown shells.

The Colors Of Turtles

Southern Painted turtle

1. The Southern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta dorsalis)

These turtles live in freshwater environments over most of North America and a small portion of Mexico. They are pond turtles, and they are sluggish.

The Southern Painted Turtle is worth investigating further despite its unimpressive appearance. Their eyes and skin have a deep, almost black, shade.

However, the ridges on their shells are typically highlighted by beautiful orange stripes and twists. Some of them are covered with orange scribbles, while others have none at all.

2. The Sabine Map Turtle (Graptemys pseudogeographica sabinensis)

The shells and skin of these Map Turtles are covered with elaborate designs. The outside of its shells is armed with spikes as well.

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The majority of them have black or dark green skin. Finally, they are striped from head to toe in white and yellow. Often, the color of their stripes will complement the color of their eyes.

They feature a swirling design on their shells that looks like letters on a map. Because of this, they were known as Map Turtles.

3. The Northern Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin)

You may see these reptiles in the wild in regions of North America and even Bermuda. All Terrapins are tiny, yet there is a wide variety in how they appear.

These terrapins have evolved to be remarkably suited to their habitats since they can survive in both saline and freshwater environments. They have very salt-resistant skin.

The skin of a diamondback terrapin is normally gray with dark green and black markings. Their yellow and white mouth contrasts with their black eyes. Their shells are covered in a kaleidoscope of colors and patterns.

4. The Common Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus)

On the East Coast of the United States, you may find these Mud Turtles. Being so little makes them difficult to identify in the wild.

Their noxious stench, released from glands on their neck, serves to ward off predators, thus the moniker.

The common names “skunk turtle” and “slipknot turtle” refer to the same species.

They have a uniform dark green coloration, and their shells and skin sometimes have brown patches. Since its shell is so spherical, it may shield a significant portion of its skull.

The largest Musk Turtle ever discovered was barely 14 centimeters in length.

Ornate Wood Turtle

5. The Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata)

Native only to the Great Plains of the United States, these turtles are quite little. They like to dig burrows in the grasses, they are freshwater turtles, and they are grassland dwellers.

These turtles have a motley of colors on their shells because they inhabit both sandy and grassy environments.

In general, their skin is a mixture of green and brown, and there are bright orange markings on their front legs. They’re distinct from other turtles because their shells are striped instead of swirling.

The idea is that by making themselves seem like the grasses surrounding them, they would be less visible from upwards.

6. The Gulf Coast Spiny Softshell Turtle (Apalone spinifera aspera)

Spiny soft-shell turtles may be found in freshwater all around the United States. It probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that their shells are smooth and velvety.

The media-referenced Turtles we’re used to seeing have domed shells, while these ones are flat and tinted to resemble moss or a stony green.

Compared to the forest green Turtles of the North, who also inhabit the Mediterranean, these turtles have more yellow and olive tones in their shell.

Their skin tone often differs somewhat from that of their shells. The color range is from gray to a very rich brown.

7. The Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina)

One species of land turtle, the Eastern Box Turtle, has a hinged shell. The Eastern United States is where you’ll find them. They are widely distributed across the United States and are among the most common box turtles there.

Due to their eye-catching design, they have gained massive popularity.

The shells of Eastern Box Turtles are orange, and the reptiles generally have brown markings on the head and front limbs. Their shells are primarily orange with brown splotches and lines.

They’re a little turtle species that likes to dig underground.

8. Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macroclemys temminckii)

You don’t want to come face to face with one of them in the wild since they are maybe the most terrifying species of Turtle. They have a massive frame and a powerful jaw.

A typical adult Alligator Snapping Turtle will have a shell that is a uniform black hue and is covered with sharp spikes. Additionally, they have very dark skin.

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Since there are few predators for these turtles, they don’t need to blend in with their surroundings until they’re out on the hunt.

9. The Hieroglyphic River Cooter (Pseudemys concinna hieroglyphica)

This kind of turtle is found in marshes all across the southern United States and is a freshwater turtle. There are many varieties of River Cooter, but the most elaborate is the Hieroglyphics.

The eyes of these turtles may be either black or yellow. The majority of their skin is yellow, and it has a striped pattern that contrasts with the rest of their swampy green skin.

They have tiny, very rounded shells with intricate patterns.

The shell’s basic color is often dark green, however, it may also be yellow-green. Tight spirals on the shell alternate with streaks of rich brown and brilliant yellow.

10. Cagle’s Map Turtle (Graptemys caglei)

In many aspects, these Map Turtles are polar opposites of the more common Alligator Snapping Turtle.

Due to their tiny size and stealthy appearance, they are easy to miss. Many predators threaten them, but they can successfully conceal themselves, except for when they are basking in the sun on rocks.

Their usual skin color is green, and they have white, yellow, or cream markings on their cheeks and front legs in the form of dots and stripes.

They resemble Sabine Map Turtles in appearance and behavior. They’re tightly wound whirls that look a lot like map features. They’ve always lived in Texas, so you may consider them native there.

Can A Turtle Alter Its Color?

Although turtles don’t morph into new hues like chameleons, many of them do so during the course of their lives. Most changes in hue occur as a result of age or the beginning of the mating season.

Painted turtles, native to Malaysia, Sumatra, and Borneo, are great examples of turtles that can change colors.

These turtles are mostly gray throughout the year. Their heads are striped with a mud-like red tone, and they also have a pair of red stripes.

When the breeding season arrives, however, the males’ normally dark skin becomes white, and the red streaks take on a vivid crimson hue.

Scientists think they do this to improve their chances of finding a suitable partner. They were not able to identify any additional value in the ability to change colors.

Similar to many other turtle species, the juveniles of some morph into their adult colors over time.

The shell darkens and the patterns grow more prominent as they age.

turtle eye diseases

What Shade Are a Turtle’s Eyes?

The eyes of turtles are as variegated as their shells. Varied subspecies of the same animal might have radically different eye hues.

Most female turtles have eyes that are brown or brownish-yellow in hue, whereas male turtles’ redder eyes are supposed to entice potential mates.

In certain animals, males have eyes that are orange instead of blue or green. The eyes of some turtle species, such as cooters, are vibrant green and yellow.

Green eyes are also seen in the elaborate box turtles. The blue eyes of the wood turtle are particularly noticeable in central America.

The Indian brown roofed turtle and the Mexican Spanish terrapin are two more species with blue eyes.

The Mississippi and Midwest false map turtles are two of the species subspecies. The yellowish-brown iris and black horizontal band in the pupil of the Midwest subspecies are telltale signs of its uniqueness.

Contrarily, members of the Mississippi subtype have white irises and black pupils without a bar.

Do Turtle Eye Color Change?

The eye color of a turtle does not change for most of its life. However, newborn turtles often have brighter patterns and colors that may disappear as they mature.

The transition often takes place in the infant’s first few years.

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Could Turtles Of Same Species Have Different Colors?

Subspecies of the same turtle species may exhibit color variation. To provide just one example, the slider turtle family tree includes three distinct species: the yellow-bellied slider, the red-eared slider, and the Cumberland slider turtle.

The plastron is yellow with two black dots at the ends, and the yellow-bellied sliders have a yellow patch on the side of their head next to their eyes.

There is a little red patch rear of the ear of a red-eared slider turtle, the scutes have many black dots, and the plastron is a pale yellow.

Like the yellow-bellied slider turtle, the Cumberland subspecies is mostly brown with a thin yellow stripe behind each eye. The stripes on its legs and neck are likewise more prominent.

Eastern, three-toed, Florida, and Gulf Coast box turtles are all subspecies of the same species that exhibit a range in coloration. The four different subspecies all have different colored shells.

Do Albino Turtles Exist?

Even though they are relatively uncommon, albino turtles may sometimes be seen in captivity. In most cases, albinism is caused by a mutation in one or more genes that were passed down from the parents.

Albinism is caused by the gene because it disrupts the process by which the body of the kid generates melanin.

Albinism, which simply refers to a lack of pigmentation, is not often associated with any serious health risks since it is so uncommon.

However, because of their yellowish-white coloring, they are incredibly easy for predators to identify, which puts them at risk of being attacked.

It’s possibly because of this that it’s next to impossible to come across mature albino turtles in their natural habitat.

Keep in mind that white turtles, which may be found deep inside the water, are not the same thing as albino turtles, which are seen in the ocean.

What Is The Rarest Turtle?

It is believed that just three individuals of the huge Yangtze giant softshell turtle still exist around the globe. This makes it the rarest species of turtle in the world.

These remarkable reptiles are perilously close to becoming extinct as a result of human activity. Its head has some yellowish tones, but the rest of its body is dark brown, and the extremities may become entirely black.

Because of the way that they are built, a portion of their limbs are exposed, and as a result, the coloring of their bodies may be affected by the development of microalgae on those limbs.

The long, piglike snout of this chelonian contributes to its unusually shaped skull. The length of the neck may be adjusted quite a bit, and it retracts smoothly.

More specifically, it has adapted webbed feet that allow it to swim and walk on water. The commercialization of these animals posed the greatest risk since people wished to eat them for their flesh or keep them as pets. 

To add insult to injury, pollution has a major effect on the one known habitat of this species. However, there may be no more than three individuals left in the wild.


It should come as no surprise that turtles come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors given that there are over 360 distinct kinds of turtles found around the globe.

This comes as a big surprise to a lot of people since turtles are often portrayed as being green in color and having hexagonal markings on their shells.

Even while some Turtles have this appearance, the vast majority of them do not. The majority of turtles have a variety of colors on their shells and skin either because they are adjusting to the environment in which they dwell or because they are attempting to frighten away potential enemies.

Turtles are one of the most incredible creatures that have ever existed since they can live for far over a hundred years and still have a fantastic appearance.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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