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Barbour’s Map Turtle (Graptemys Barbouri)

Barbour’s Map Turtle Facts and Information

Map turtles are popular pets, because of their captivating and conspicuous appearance, and the Barbour’s map turtle is no different. These carnivorous turtles are good swimmers and spend most of their time in the water. The eye-catching markings and saw-like high-domed shells set map turtles apart from other turtles.

Quick Reference Section

The Graptemys barbouri is endemic to the southeast United States. They are riverine turtles and can be found in the Apalachicola River and its tributaries (including Chipola River) in the southwest of Georgia, the Florida panhandle and the southeast of Alabama.

These turtles prefer faster-flowing waters than most Emydidae turtles do. While adults prefer deep waters, the juveniles and hatchlings prefer to stay close to the bank.

The Graptemys barbouri belongs to the family Emydidae, and the genus Graptemys (which includes other map turtles like the Black Knobbed Map Turtle, Northern Map Turtle, the Ouachita Map Turtle and the rest).  

While male turtles have a carapace (shell) length of 3.5 to 5.5 inches, females are much larger and have shell lengths of 5 to 12.5 inches. As with other map turtles like the texas map turtle, mississippi map turtle, and false map turtle, the Barbour’s map turtle has a raised back with saw-like spines. The scutes of their greenish shell have yellow c-shaped markings. Their skin is brown to black and has yellowish green strips.

The lifespan of these turtles is unknown. However, a member of the Graptemys barbouri at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park lived to be 31 years.

Barbour’s Map Turtle Diet


Barbour’s map turtles are carnivorous. In the wild, they feed solely on animal food. The food they feed on depends on their size. Juveniles and hatchlings feed on insects and larvae. Males feed on insect, larvae, small snails and clams.

Females are the largest members of this species and as such fed exclusively on large preys including mollusks such as clams and snails. They use their beaks to crush these hard-shelled mollusks and swallow them whole.

Smaller males can be fed aquatic insects, crustaceans, mealworms, pieces of fish and small mollusks. Larger females can eat clams and snails. You can also feed them with prawns, crayfish, and mussels, fiddler and green crabs, minnows, shiners, and periwinkles.

In addition to this protein-based diet, you can also feed them commercial turtle food. This can make up about a third of their diet.

Barbour’s Map Turtle Habitat

The Barbour’s map turtle is a predominantly aquatic turtle. They are strong swimmers and can swim in fast-moving rivers. These aquatic turtles will come out to bask on logs in the river/stream they inhabit.

Because of their bashful nature, they usually dive back into the water at any sign of danger. They spend almost all their lives in the water and only come out to nest.

As with all map turtles, a large turtle tank is important. The water capacity of the turtle tank should be between 75 to 120 gallons. This gives the turtle a lot of room to swim.

Apart from tanks, these turtles can also be housed in koi ponds and turtle tubs. Regardless of where they live, a basking area is important. For males, commercial turtle basking docks will do.

Barbours Map Turtle

Females can grow over a foot long and generally need a larger area to bask. You can create a basking area using slates of rock as well as natural cork bark.

When housed in turtle tanks, a pump and filter are necessary to keep the water clean. It is important that the filter is powerful enough to properly keep the tank spotless. Even with a pump and a filter, you still need to replace a third of the water in the tank once a week.

Good lighting is important when it comes to caring for pet turtles. Since the side glass of most aquariums and turtle tank filter out UVB light from the sun, you will need to provide this important rays yourself with the help of UVB light bulbs. This light should be above the basking spot.

For a more in depth look at lights, check out our best uvb bulb for turtles review.

The temperature of the enclosure needs to be properly monitored. The basking spot needs to be 85 degrees to 90 degrees, while the water temperature should be around 75 degrees.

You can also check out our review of the best turtle tank heaters to help with keeping the water temperatures at a good level.

Barbour’s Map Turtle Breeding

Female Barbour’s map turtles take long to reach sexual maturity as compared to the males. While females reach maturity from 15 to 20 years, males reach maturity from 2 to 4 years.

A lot is unknown about the mating habits of this species. Nesting occurs from June to early August. During that time, the female can lay 4 clutches in a mating season. Each clutch consists of 6 to 11 eggs. In captivity, nesting occurs during winter.

Barbour’s Map Turtle Predators

The main predators of the Barbour’s map turtle are land mammals such as raccoons, and snakes. Humans also collect the turtles for food.

Barbour’s Map Turtle Endangerment

While not endangered, this species is considered to be ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN red list. According to the IUCN report, the population of the species is falling. This is mainly down to the loss of habitat. There are laws in place to protect this species and stabilize/improve their population.


When deciding to keep the Barbour’s map turtle as a pet, make sure you follow the regulations in place. It is illegal to sell a turtle with a shell length under 4-inches in the United States. Also, in Alabama, Michigan, and Georgia, it is illegal to own the Barbour’s map turtle as a pet.

Lastly, in Florida, you cannot have more than 2 turtles as pets. While caring for this turtle can be challenging, it is an amazing experience. Their striking appearance makes them stand out.

So, over to you! Do you have one of these? Are you thinking of getting one? Let us know in the comments below!

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