Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Peniston's State Reptile Bill Goes to Committee; Turtles Common Choice

Rep. Cherilyn Peniston, D-Westminster, will ask a House committee Tuesday to approve her bill designating the Western painted turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii) as Colorado's official state reptile.

Designation of the turtle would not be a particularly unique gesture, however.

25 other states have officially designated reptiles. Among the lucky creatures are a number of different turtles, including the Alabama red-bellied turtle (Pseudemys alabamensis), Desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), Ornate box turtle (Terrapene ornata), Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin), Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii), Three-toed box turtle (Terrapene Carolina triunguis), Snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina), Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina), Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and Gopher tortoise (genus including four species)

Illinois and Michigan have designated the species Painted turtle as their state reptiles. The Western Painted turtle is one of four subspecies of that species and is, as the name indicates, native to most of the American west.

If HB 1017 is enacted into law, Peniston might owe a debt of thanks to the kids who helped her come up with it.

The Adams County lawmaker says middle school children in her district suggested designation of the turtle. According to a report in the Rocky Mountain News, the kids weren't excited about picking a rattlesnake.

"Originally they thought they’d have a rattlesnake, but they were worried that people might think they were being too mean,” Peniston told the Rocky.