Northern Map Turtle (Common Map Turtle)


Northern map turtles are small- to medium-sized and have a low ridge along the center of the upper shell. The hind edge of the upper shell is strongly serrated. The upper shell normally is brown or olive-brown with a netlike pattern of fine yellow lines, giving the shell the appearance of a road map. The lower shell of this species is light yellow; the seams between scutes are dark brown. The head and limbs are brown with thin yellow lines. A small yellow spot is present behind each eye.

Adult map turtles range in upper shell length from 7 to 10 ¾ inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
Rivers, sloughs and oxbow lakes are the preferred habitats for the map turtle. This species will spend much time basking in the sun on logs or other objects, but will quickly dash into the water at the slightest disturbance.
Map turtles eat snails, naiads, crayfish and some insects. Female map turtles, which are larger than males, can crack the shells of mollusks and crayfish with their jaws.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Occurs primarily in the Ozark region of Missouri and upper Mississippi River in northeastern Missouri.
Common. This species used to be called the "common map turtle," but biologists recommend avoiding the word "common" in the name, since it might mislead people into thinking these animals are abundant, when in fact they simply have a broad geographical distribution. Broadly speaking, populations of amphibians and reptiles have been declining due to habitat destruction, indiscriminate use of pesticides and pollution.