Map Turtles

All ten species of Map Turtles are native to eastern North America. They have a low ridge, or keel, along the midline of the carapace (the thick shell that covers the back of the turtle). Certain species, such as the False Map Turtle, have knobs on the keel and are sometimes called sawbacks. As the turtle ages, the knobs tend to wear down. The Ouachita Map Turtle (Graptemys ouachitensis), similar in appearance to the False Map Turtle and overlapping much of its range, is distinguished by four large yellow spots or alternating yellow and dark green bars on the underside of the head. Other map turtles are specific to certain river basins in the South. All are gregarious, basking together atop logs or on steep banks and vanishing quickly when an intruder appears. Although some species eat plants, invertebrates make up most of their diet. The female Map Turtle takes freshwater clams and snails, while the smaller male feeds on insects and crayfish.

Species of Map Turtles

Common Map Turtle (Graptemys geographica)
Common Map Turtle
(Graptemys geographica)
Photo by George W. Robinson ©1999 California Academy of Sciences

Barbour's Map Turtle (Graptemys barbouri)
Barbour's Map Turtle
(Graptemys barbouri)

Photo by

Conservation Status

Common map turtles are less tolerant to poor conditions than most other turtles (Kirkpatrick 1999). Humans are hurting the turtles by numerous methods. Pollution, waterfront development is destroying their breeding sites, and automobiles are also a killer of these turtles when they are migrating to the breeding sites

Graptemys geographica
(Common Map Turtle ) - IUCN Red List:: Endangered (EN)

Graptemys barbouri
(Barbour's map turtle)

Graptemys caglei
(Cagle's Map Turtle)

Graptemys flavimaculata (Sawback Turtle) - IUCN Red List: Endangered
US Federal List: Threatened

Graptemys nigrinoda (Black-knobbed Map Turtle)

Graptemys oculifera
(Ringed Map Turtle)

Graptemys ouachitensis (Ouachita Map Turtle)

Graptemys pseudogeographica
(False Map Turtle) - IUCN Red List: No Special Status;US Federal List: No Special Status

Graptemys pulchra (Alabama Map Turtle)

Graptemys versa
(Texas map turtle)

Home Contact RSS