Alabama Map Turtle (Graptemys pulchra)
The Alabama map turtle inhabits large, muddy rivers and rocky streams. This turtle type can be spotted mostly around Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi.
Females grow much larger than males. Their larger heads easily crush food such as snails and mollusks.
Males have weaker jaws, so their diet is mostly a choice among water insects.
Graptemys turtles are nine species in all, so it could be quite confusing to tell them apart.
But Alabama map turtles have this black stripe going downwards at the center of their backs and visible knobs.
Read on to learn a whole lot more about this magnificent aquatic creature!
Quick Reference Section
- Scientific Name: Graptemys pulchra or Graptemys pulchra Baur, 1893
- Family: Emydidae
- Size: Adult males at 3.5 to 5 inches and adult females at 7 to 11.5 inches
- Weight: Average weight at 3,349 grams
- Diet: snails, clams, mollusks, some males eat lettuce
- Lifespan: 15 years
- Book: The Map Turtle and Sawback Atlas: Ecology, Evolution, Distribution, and Conservation by Peter V Lindeman & Anders G. J. Rhodin
Interesting facts about Alabama map turtles
- Females grow twice the size of males.
- Adult males typically measure less than 120 mm in carapace length.
- They frequently choose creeks and rivers for their homes.
- They love basking in the sun.
- They nest in wide sandbars.
- Alabama map turtles are most active during the day and between late March to November.
- Captive pets love to bask in floating turtle logs and brush.
- They are carnivores by nature, but they become omnivores depending on food options in their habitat. They eat vegetation in rivers.
- Males signal courtship to females using their snouts.
- Male Alabama map turtles do not have fore claws.
- IUCN has listed them as Near Threatened in 2013 with mature Alabama map turtles in decline.
What does the Alabama map turtle look like?
Alabama map turtles go from medium to large sizes with an olive carapace. The dark stripes on their backs give them a distinct look among other map turtles.
The eyes have an olive mask pattern. You can see a light bar going from the chin to the neck.
Juveniles would have yellow patterns on the marginal scutes. Most adults lose color, and the markings can become less defined as they age.
Females have a large head and strong jaws that make it easy to crush larger and harder prey.
Males, on the other hand, have smaller heads and weaker jaws.
Where can the Alabama map turtle be found?
This map turtle is at home in the large rivers and streams of Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.
Some rivers in Georgia and Louisiana have Alabama map turtles.
They confine themselves to river systems and drainage systems of these areas. They are at risk of extirpation.
They are rare in Georgia, and are under protection in Alabama. Mississippi lists it as “of special concern”.
What kind of habitat do the Alabama map turtles live in?
They choose muddy water habitats. You can see them happily basking in fallen tree trunks. Males like the shallow parts, while females tend to linger in the deeper areas.
You can spot them in streams that open to the sun and provide good basking spots.
What does the Alabama map turtle eat?
Alabama map turtles are natural carnivores. Typical food choices are snails, aquatic insects, snails, mollusks, clams, and fish.
Some males in captivity can develop the taste for lettuce. Captive pets can be fed with crickets and worms.
How long does the Alabama map turtle live?
Among captive pets, the recorded life span reached as long as 15 years. In the wild, Alabama map turtles can become quite vulnerable. Their rate of survival depends on the particular habitat. Human intrusion such as shipping and boating endangers their population.
How many eggs does the Alabama map turtle lay?
The female Graptemys pulchra lays six to seven clutches each year. You can see a typical clutch on river sandbars with four to seven eggs per clutch.
Nesting season is from late April to August. Alabama map turtles most prefer laying nests in sandy areas.
The eggs hatch between 10 to 11 weeks.
Males are sexually mature between three to four years. Interestingly, females reach maturity much later, at about 14 years old.
It is locally abundant, but habitat destruction poses a great risk. Some areas also provide a limited supply of diet.
What predators does the Alabama map turtle have?
The species don’t really burrow deep in the sand because they love to bask in the sun.
Nests, in particular, are prone to get eaten by raccoons and crows. This is because females make little effort in hiding their cutches.
Map turtles’ source of great danger is habitat interference and destruction. They fall prey to human collectors.
Water pollution also presents a problem to their survival. The species can also fail to thrive in areas that provide less dietary options.
Is it legal to have the Alabama map turtle as a pet?
Yes, but you need to apply for a license. Alabama laws protect Alabama map turtles from illegal hunting and trading.
Make sure to buy from a reputed and licensed captive breeder. Never buy or take a wild caught turtle.
Alabama Map Turtle Un Boxing Video
The below video is an unboxing of a baby Alabama map turtle which gives you a really nice overview of how the turtles look and are in size.
The Alabama map turtle is classified as a beginner’s pet. It is reputed for doing quite well in captivity.
Captive mates also reproduce regularly. As for their diet, you can easily buy provisions on Amazon.
You can also serve your pet Alabama map turtles some shrimp, snails, or lettuce besides commercial flakes and aquatic turtle food.
Be prepared to invest in a map turtle tank. UVB lighting and basking logs are recommended because they love the warmth of the sun.