The Mississippi Map Turtle

Carapace - One of distinguishing features of map turtles is the ridge of black tipped knobs running along the spine, and the jagged rear carapace edge. The shell is typically olive to brown with an intricate pattern of yellow to orange semi-circles on the carapace scutes (reminiscent of a road map); these patterns often fade with age & may be obscured by algae overgrowth. Mississippi maps have moderately prominent black-tipped knobbing (less than Black-Knobbed maps, more than Common maps).

Plastron - The plastron is tan to yellowish with brown lines resembling wood grain at the edges of the scutes. These fade with age and become less distinct. The plastron may have some dark patterning.

Head - The head of the Mississippi map has the main identifying feature. On the side of the head there will be a curved line (a ‘reverse crescent’) that curves down behind & sweeps under the eye. From the top view there is a single line running down the center of the head separating the two crescent lines on the sides. Another semi-reliable distinguishing feature is the round pupil & bright, unbroken iris; Mississippi maps stereotypically have no bar across the pupil (unlike Ouachita & False maps), though exceptions exist.

Size -  Females are considerably larger than males. The male being 3 ½” to 5” and the female anywhere from 6” to 10” SCL. Males have a leaner look more like juveniles, but females have a bulkier build.

Map turtles get their name from the lines and markings on their carapace which resemble the contour lines of a map. Sex can be determined by examining the tail. The tail of the female is considerably smaller than that of the male. The male has a much thicker-based and longer tail than the small petite tail of the female. Males also have slightly longer nails on the forelegs (similar to painted males, but not the extent of male sliders & cooters).

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