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7 Species of Turtles Found in Oregon (Photos)

Nicknamed “The Beaver State,” Oregon is home to a wide range of creatures, from mammals and reptiles. In this article we’re discussing the state’s species of turtles. In total, there are seven types of turtles in Oregon, but not all of these species are native to the state. From freshwater turtles to sea turtles, these are turtles you can find in Oregon!

Photo collage turtles in Oregon

7 Awesome Turtles In Oregon

Species Length Weight Habitat and Diet
Western Painted Turtle 5 to 10 in 11 to 18 oz Lives in muddy bodies of water with aquatic vegetation for food
Northwestern Pond Turtle 6 to 10 in 1 to 2.4 lbs Found in ponds and marshes with slow-moving waters, omnivorous
Common Snapping Turtle 8 to 18 in 9.9 to 35.3 lbs Invasive species in Oregon, known for eating small mammals and fish
Leatherback Turtle 6 to 7.2 ft 550 to 1,500 lbs Largest turtle in Oregon, found in coastal waters
Loggerhead Turtle 2.5 to 3.5 ft 155 to 375 lbs Found in shallow ocean waters, mainly eats invertebrates
Green Turtle 3 to 4 ft 300 to 350 lbs Often spotted in North Pacific waters, changes diet with age

1. Western Painted Turtle 

western painted turtle in wetlands
Western Painted Turtle in wetlands | image by Colin Durfee via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Chrysemys picta bellii
  • Length: 5 to 10 in
  • Weight: 11 to 18 oz

The western painted turtle is the largest painted turtle subspecies. In Oregon, it’s usually found in Willamette Valley and in the Blue Mountains. It can also be spotted in the Columbia Plateau, where it lives along the Columbia river. 

While all painted turtles have colorful shells, western painted turtles usually have bright red markings. These turtles are omnivores, but the bulk of their diet is aquatic vegetation. They typically live in and along bodies of water with muddy bottoms, where they have consistent access to food. 

2. Northwestern Pond Turtle 

Western pond turtle on log
Western pond turtle on log | image by One Tam via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Actinemys marmorata
  • Length: 6 to 10 in
  • Weight: 1 to 2.4 lbs

This freshwater turtle divides its time between aquatic and terrestrial habitats. They’re drawn to ponds and marshes with slow-moving waters, but they’re also known to dig nests on land. 

These turtles have suffered from habitat loss and are vulnerable to several predators, including raccoons and invasive bullfrogs. They are also killed when they attempt to cross roads. Currently, they’re listed as an Oregon Conversation Strategy species.

3. Red-Eared Slider

Red-eared slider turtle
Red-eared slider turtle | Image by Abdullah Al Mamun from Pixabay
  • Scientific Name: Trachemys scripta elegans
  • Length: 6 to 12 in
  • Weight:  7 to 10 oz

Like their name suggests, red-eared sliders have bright-red markings along the sides of their head. Although this turtle isn’t native to Oregon, it’s been introduced to the state due to the pet trade. It lays its eggs earlier than the state’s native turtles, which makes it a target for predators. 

It prefers to live near calm waters, like ponds or creeks. The red-eared slider is an omnivore and feeds on aquatic plants and small fish. It’s also known to scavenge for food and will eat dead frogs and fish. 

4. Common Snapping Turtle

Common snapping turtle
Common snapping turtle | image by NPGallery via Wikimedia Commons
  • Scientific Name: Chelydra serpentina
  • Length:  8 to 18 in
  • Weight: 9.9 to 35.3 lbs

While the common snapping turtle is native to the eastern region of the United States, it’s an invasive species in Oregon. Snapping turtle populations have increased in recent years, and it’s been spotted in the Columbia and Willamette river systems. 

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The turtle has a strong jaws and mouth that resembles a beak. It’s known for eating just about anything, and its diet includes small mammals, fish, and even other turtles. Due to its powerful jaws and feeding habits, it’s a threat to many native animals species in Oregon. 

5. Leatherback Turtle

Leatherback sea turtle
Leatherback sea turtle | image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Dermochelys coriacea
  • Length:  6 to 7.2 ft
  • Weight: 550 to 1,500 lbs

Not only is the leatherback turtle the largest turtle in Oregon, but it’s the biggest living sea turtle species. While it’s rare to spot this turtle on land, it can be found in Oregon’s coastal waters. Unlike most reptiles, the leatherback turtle is able to maintain a high body temperature, even in cold sea waters

It has big front flippers and a teardrop shaped body that allow it to swim quickly through ocean waters. Leatherback turtles are among the world’s fastest-moving reptiles and can swim at speeds up to 21.92 mph.

6. Loggerhead Turtle

Loggerhead sea turtle
Loggerhead sea turtle | image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Caretta caretta
  • Length: 2.5 to 3.5 ft
  • Weight: 155 and 375 lbs

The loggerhead turtle can be found in oceans across the globe, including the Pacific Ocean, which borders Oregon. It spends the majority of its time in shallow waters along the coast, but it briefly comes on shore to build nests and lay eggs. 

When this turtle isn’t swimming, it spends its time resting along the bottom of the ocean. It’s an omnivore that mainly eats invertebrates like horseshoe crabs and bivalves. Thanks to its strong jaws, it’s easily able to crush its prey. 

7. Green Turtle

Green turtle underwater
Green turtle underwater | image by Bernard DUPONT via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Chelonia mydas
  • Length: 3 to 4 ft
  • Weight: 300 to 350 lbs

Also known as the Pacific green turtle, this turtle can be found worldwide and is often spotted in the North Pacific waters. Despite its name, it isn’t known for having a green shell. However, it does have a green layer of fat beneath its shell. 

This turtle changes its diet as it grows older. Young turtles are carnivores, but older turtles eat large quantities of sea matter, including green and red algae. It has a long lifespan and can live for more than 70 years in the wild.