Northern Map Turtle

Scientific Name: Graptemys geographica
Size: 7.5-10.8 inches (9-27.3 cm) in length
Status: Species of special concern

Large bodies of water like lakes and rivers.

Medium-sized aquatic species. The upper shell is olive to brown and is heavily marked with a pattern of light colored lines, typically yellow in color. The underside is off-white to yellow. There is a yellow blotch on either side of the head, and the head and neck have small yellow lines running along them. The tail and legs may also be marked with thin yellow lines. The shell has notches above the tail. The rear of the shell is slight serration.

Adult Coloration:
  • The carapace background color is olive to olive-brown and covered with a complex reticulate pattern of narrow yellow lines.
  • The plastron is pale yellow.
  • The lower marginal scutes are yellow with circular dark markings and the bridge has longitundinal dark lines.
  • The head, neck and chin have a background color of olive-brown and are strongly patterned with a series of thin longitudinal lines.
  • The head has an elongate yellow blotch on each side of the head just above the ears.
  • The postorbital mark is triangular and not connected to the head stripes.
  • The legs and tail are also olive-brown and have thin yellow longitudinal lines.
  • The lower jaw is patterened with yellow longitudinal lines.
Adult Characteristics:
  • Medium-sized aquatic species.
  • Profile View – The carapace is long, flattened and relatively smooth with a slight keel along the midline.
  • Above View – The carapace is oval in outline with a smooth border excpet for a slight serration along the posterior margin.
  • The plastron is large with a wide bridge.
  • Males vertebral spine is present
Juvenile Characteristics:
  • The plastron is yellow with dark seam-following pattern.
  • Above veiw – Almost circular appearence.
  • The midline keel is more conspicuous.
  • Vertebral spine is present.

Juvenile Gallery:

May be Confused With:
  • Hulse, C. and McCoy C. J. and Ellen Censky ,1998. Amphibians and Reptiles of Pennsylvania and the Northeast. 231-232pp.
  • Ernst, Carl H. and Lovich, Jeffrey E., and Barbour, Roger W. ,1994. Turtles of the United States and Canada. 340-344pp.
  • Wayne Fidler
  • Jeff Hankey
  • Kyle Loucks
  • Don Becker
  • Andrew Wolf
  • Stephen Staedtler
  • Andy Weber

Heads up!

Please contribute your observation of this and other herps to the Pennsylvania Amphibian and Reptile Survey. Your help is needed.

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