Hi, Mr. Nature here. And I promised “Unknowable” he would see a turtle’s courtship dance today, so here it is. There’s actually quite a lot of video on this subject, but most of it’s a little muddled.
The male painted turtle has the long claws for gently caressing the female. The female is larger than the male in this species.
Most North American water turtles are closely related, even if they look very different from one species to another, so it’s not unusual to see a young, inexperienced painted turtle trying to court a false map turtle or a red-eared slider.
Our poor turtle was trying to court a ceramic turtle, which produced from him a very long and drawn-out courtship ritual during which he tried every trick in the book. We did not foresee this when we thought this would be a nice little decorative touch for his surroundings, and installed the fake turtle. He couldn’t tell it from the real thing, and it must have been a trying experience for him.