Animal Information

The Mississippi Map Turtle (Graptemys pseudogeographica kohni) is NOT from Mississippi?

The Mississippi Map Turtle (Graptemys pseudogeographica kohni ) are not native to just the state of Mississippi. Instead, they are native to almost all of Central America.

The Mississippi Map Turtle (Graptemys pseudogeographica kohni ) are endemic from Long Island, New York, southward (excluding higher elevations of the Appalachians) to the entire state of Florida. Added the Gulf Coast, westward through all the Gulf Coast states, northward through the Mississippi Valley including western Tennessee, Kentucky, southern Indiana (isolated colony in northwestern Indiana) and Illinois, extreme southeastern Missouri, Arkansas. Continuing westward through eastern Oklahoma, and eastern and central Texas. get their name from the Mississippi River.

Taking refuge in rivers, lakes and large streams, these turtles tend to prefer habitat with abundant vegetation. Map turtles (genus Graptemys) get their common name from the lines and markings on the carapace which resemble the contour lines of a map.

The specific name, kohni, is in honor of amateur naturalist Joseph Gustave Kohn (1837-1906) of New Orleans, Louisiana.

There are thirteen officially recognized map turtle species. The Mississippi map turtle is one of the two subspecies of the false map turtle (an aquatic turtle belonging to the Emidadye family. Since they’re already a subspecies of the map turtle, the Mississippi map has no subspecies of its own.

Map turtles are sometimes also called “sawback” turtles due to the raised, saw-like appearance on the vertebral (top, or carapace) part of the shell.

Mississippi Map Turtle can live for up to 30 years or more.

Mississippi Map Turtles do great outdoors just about anywhere. Indoor turtles will need reptile-specific UVB lighting affixed over its basking spots.

The temperature range over the basking spots should be between 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit or so, and the air temperature of the cage should not be allowed to drop below the mid-80s.

Mississippi Map Turtle Care

UVB is so important!

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Water temperature in map turtle enclosures should be kept in the low to mid-70s for adult specimens. Turtles self-regulate their body temperature by basking and swimming, so it’s important that you maintain the right temperature range throughout the enclosure.

In addition to the heat source and UVB lighting, you’ll want to have a set of regular lights set to a timer that mimics the natural passing of the day and night.

Mississippi Map Turtle Diet

Mississippi maps are aquatic turtles; they do just about everything while swimming, including eating. In fact, Mississippi maps will only feed when they’re in the water.

They are omnivores, but adults tend to be more carnivorous than other “slider” turtles, to the point where it’s easy to accidentally feed them too much. When map turtles are fed too much protein it can result in an unhealthy growth rate and pyramiding of the shell.

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A proper map turtle’s diet begins with nutritionally balanced turtle pellets that you can find at the pet store. The turtle’s diet should be supplemented with fresh, leafy greens and healthy, low-fat proteins as well.

Mississippi maps enjoy dark leafy greens and vegetables like Romaine lettuce, dandelion leaves, parsley, and spinach. As for the type of proteins you should give them, gender will be the guiding factor.  

Since females tend to grow larger than males, they have larger jaws that can consume larger prey like snails and clams. Males, on the other hand, have to be fed prey like aquatic insects, crustaceans, mealworms, mollusks, and fish.

Providing cuttlebone will help ensure your turtle has the calcium they need for healthy shells. This can be given on their basking site.

How To Identify The Mississippi Map Turtle

The Mississippi Map Turtle has a prominent ridge running along the center (vertebral) part of its carapace, or upper shell, which is serrated, like a saw along the back edge.

The shell color is brown or olive and has narrow, yellow, connected lines or circles. This curved line can be seen on top of the turtle’s head as it runs down the center and splits down each side.

The plastron, or lower shell, is a light green-yellow with light brown lines that resemble wood grain running along the seams of the scutes (scales) along the tile-shaped sections of the shell. The wood-like lines tend to fade and become less distinct as the turtle ages.

The main difference between the Mississippi Map and other map species is that Mississippi Maps have bright yellow reverse-crescents that sweep under and behind both of their eyes.

Another, less reliable, way to tell if your turtle is a Mississippi Map is the round pupil and solid, unbroken iris of the eye.

Females of G. p. kohni are considerably larger than males, the adult male being 3.5 to 5 inches (about 9 to 13 cm) in straight carapace length, and the adult female from 6 to 10 inches (about 15 to 25 cm) in straight carapace length.

Mississippi Map Turtle Breeding

Mississippi mud turtles do well in a community situation with basking turtles such as cooters and sliders provided the size difference is not too great. 

Great caution is advised when housing this species with others of its kind, or with closely related species. Aggression often occurs, and damage can be swift and irreversible. This is most pronounced when maintaining males together, or maintaining males with unreceptive females.

Female Map Turtles have smaller tails but grow larger in body than their male counterparts, while males have slightly longer nails on their forelegs and tails.

There are a few ways to distinguish a male from a female turtle of this breed.

The female Mississippi Map Turtle will be larger than her male counterpart, as she will grow to be 6-10” while males will only reach 3½-5”.

Females will appear bulkier, while males will be leaner like juveniles. Also, a female’s tail will be smaller than a male’s tale, and a male’s tail will have a thicker base. Plus, a male turtle will have nails on his forelegs that are a bit longer than those on a female.

Females reach sexual maturity at an age of six to eight years. The reproductive season extends from April through July during which individual females can deposit three or more clutches of one to six eggs.

Eggs are laid almost anywhere in nests made by the female or sometimes in burrows of other animals, and sometimes on top of the ground. Incubation of eggs takes three to three and one-half months.


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