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Graptemys pseudogeographica.jpg
False map turtle, Graptemys pseudogeographica
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Superfamily: Testudinoidea
Family: Emydidae
Subfamily: Deirochelyinae
Genus: Graptemys
Agassiz, 1857[1]

13, see text



Graptemys is a genus of aquatic, freshwater turtles known commonly as map turtles or sometimes sawback turtles, endemic to North America.

Geographic range[edit]

They are found throughout the eastern half of the United States and northward into southern Canada.


They superficially resemble many other species of aquatic turtles, including sliders (Trachemys) and cooters (Pseudemys). However, they are distinguished by a keel that runs the length of the center of the carapace. They also typically grow to a smaller size at maturity. They are given the common name "map turtle" due to the map-like markings on the carapace.

Courtship behavior[edit]

Adult male Graptemys have greatly elongated claws on the front feet, which are used in courtship behavior. The male faces the considerably larger female and "fans" her face, vibrating his foreclaws against her head to induce her to cooperate in mating.[2]


Average life expectancy of map turtles ranges from 15 to 20 years, depending on species.

Pet trade[edit]

Throughout the pet trade Mississippi, common, and Ouachita map turtles were bred and hatched out by the thousands back in the 1970s. Some other various turtles were available, but as the Salmonellosis 4-Inch Law was established, map turtles and others slowly decreased in popularity. Today these same common three still hold the title for most common among the pet trade. Other species that are being captive-bred more often include the Texas map turtle, Cagle's map turtle, and the black-knobbed map turtle. Some harder-to-find map turtles include the yellow-blotched map turtle and the Pearl River map turtle.


(Listed alphabetically)[3]


  1. ^ a b Fritz, Uwe; Havaš, Peter (2007). "Checklist of Chelonians of the World". Vertebrate Zoology 57 (2). Archived from the original on 2010-12-17. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  2. ^ Goin, C.J.; O.B. Goin; G.R. Zug. 1978. Introduction to Herpetology, Third Edition. W.H. Freeman. San Francisco. xi + 378 pp. ISBN 0-7167-0020-4. (Courtship behavior in Graptemys, p. 260.)
  3. ^ Genus Graptemys at The Reptile Database
  4. ^ Ennen, Joshua R., Jeffrey E. Lovich, Brian R. Kreiser, W. Selman, Carl P. Qualls (2010). Genetic and Morphological Variation Between Populations of the Pascagoula map turtle (Graptemys gibbonsi) in the Pearl and Pascagoula Rivers with Description of a New Species. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 9 (1): 98–113.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Agassiz, L. Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America. Vol. I. Little, Brown and Company. Boston. li + 452 pp. (Genus Graptemys, p. 252.)
  • Smith, H.M., and E.D. Brodie, Jr. 1982. Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Golden Press. New York. 240 pp. ISBN 0-307-13666-3 (paperback). (Genus Graptemys, p. 48, including identification key to species.)