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Map Turtle

Graptemys geographica

  • Family: Emydidae
  • Adult Size: Females are the larger of the species. Females range from 6 to 10 inches, while males are half their size.
  • Range: Northeastern United States and into Canada. Generally the Great Lakes region.
  • Habitat: Map turtles inhabit moving waters, such as rivers and large streams.
  • Captive Lifespan: 12 to 20 Years
  • Dangerous:
  • Care Level: Intermediate


Map turtles (from the genus, Graptemys) are rather demanding captives. In nature they are inhabitants of moving waters, such as rivers and large streams. When kept in the confines of an aquarium they are prone to a bacterial "shell-rot." Absolute cleanliness is mandatory for turtles of this genus. Map turtles are one of the more difficult species to keep.

Adequate space is important. One or two small, semi-aquatic turtles could properly live in at least a 40 gallon breeder size tank, but more space is always preferable. Cleanliness is essential for the health of the turtles. Enclosures should be cleaned frequently. Some species may be kept outside year-round or during the summer, depending upon the climate. For haulout areas, a few limb sections wedged into place and protruding well above the water in the center of the tank are ideal in most cases.

Warmth--especially in the form of a basking area--is very important. Most turtles enjoy basking temperatures ranging from 84 to 94 degrees Fahrenheit. Water temperatures between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit are fine. Vitamin D and calcium supplements, used in conjunction with full-spectrum lighting, will give turtles a better chance at good health.

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