turtle with orange belly

Identifying the species of a turtle can be difficult. Luckily, there are many different ways to identify a turtle, including shell color, texture, and their belly. If you’ve seen a turtle with an orange belly, you might be interested to know what species it is.

Which turtle has an orange belly?

The two main types of turtles that have an orange belly are red-bellied cooters and painted turtles. While they look similar, there are a couple ways to distinguish them.

Below is an overview of each species.

Painted turtles

Painted turtles can also have orange bellies. The base cover of the belly is typically orange, and then there are usually a black and yellow pattern that covers the shell.

The two most common painted turtle that have orange bellies are the Midland Painted turtle and the Western Painted turtle.

Midland painted turtles can be found in a wide range of water bodies, including rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams. They can also be found in brackish waters such as wetlands. They prefer quiet areas that don’t have a strong flow of water.

Western painted turtles are found in similar bodies of water as Midland painted turtles. The main difference between the two species is that Western painted turtles tend to have more of a heavy protein diet, including insects. Midland painted turtles have more of an omnivorous diet that is heavy with plants.

Both the Midland and Western painted turtles can be found pretty much throughout the whole United States. They can also be found in southern Canada and parts of northern Mexico.

They main way to tell the difference between the two species is to look at their scutes. You can learn more in my article on how to tell the difference between painted turtles.

While painted turtles are very common, especially in the U.S, there is another species of turtle with orange bellies that is not a common.

Red-bellied cooter

There are two types of red-bellied cooters that have an orange belly, the Northern Red Bellied Cooter and the Florida Red Bellied Cooter.

The Northern Red Bellied Cooter is located primarily along the Northeast. It goes as far north as Massachusetts, and as south as North Carolina. Due to the eroding of their natural habitat, they are classified as an endangered species.

Northern Red-Bellied Cooters typically have thinner shells that don’t form a high oval. This helps them navigate the waters and catch their food.

As the name suggests, the Florida Red-Bellied Cooter is found primarily in Florida. It can also be found it parts of southern Georgia.

Red-bellied cooters tend to have darkish shells with a couple orange lines across the top. Their skin is typically black with a lot of yellow stripes. They also tend to have more of an oval shaped shell. You can learn more in my article on the Florida Red Bellied Turtle.

Aside form their locations, both Northern and Florida Red-Bellied Cooters have similar habitats and behavior.

The bottoms of their shells are usually an orangish-red color but can sometimes be yellow. They can grow up to 12 inches, and can live for over 30 years.

They usually live in ponds, rivers, and streams. Sometimes, red-bellied cooters that live near the coast will venture into brackish water that have a mix of fresh and saltwater.

Red Bellied Cooters are very good swimmers, and spend a lot of their time in the water. They also bask a lot, which is why they frequently climb on top of branches and rocks.


I hope this article helped explain what turtles have orange bellies. You should know that both painted turtles and red bellied cooters can be pets. However, I don’t recommend that you take them from the wild. It is best if you get them from a pet store.

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