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Mississippi Map Turtle

Nicole Cosgrove

Mississippi Map Turtles are beautiful to look at but not the easiest turtle to keep as a pet. They are shy and quick to become stressed when handled. They also require very clean water as they are an aquatic species and spend most of their time swimming.

If you are willing to do the work to keep their tank clean and don’t want a pet you pick up or touch frequently, then the Mississippi Map might be a good choice for you. You can find the answers to all of your questions about these pretty turtles here!

divider-turtleQuick Facts About Mississippi Map Turtles

Species Name Graptemys pseudogeographica kohnii
Family Emydidae
Care Level Medium to high
Temperature 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit
Temperament Timid, can bite if stressed
Color Form Olive green, brown, orange, yellow, black
Lifespan 15 to 25 years
Size Males—up to 5 inches;
Females—up to 10 inches
Diet Turtle pellets, plants, fruits, vegetables, crickets, shrimp
Minimum Tank Size 25 to 75-gallon tank for single turtles
Tank Set-Up Water for swimming; beach; basking spot
Compatibility Can live with one another; limit females

Mississippi Map Turtle Overview

Mississippi map turtle
Image Credit: Gabbie Berry, Shutterstock

Mississippi Map Turtles have beautiful shells. Their markings resemble the lines on a map. These turtles are smaller than many other aquatic turtle species, but they require a lot of space to swim.

They also make better pets for observing than for handling frequently. The Mississippi Map Turtle is quite timid and prefers to be left alone by people. They have very strong jaws and will bite if they are frightened.

However, for the experienced turtle owner, these turtles are a great choice for watching. They are very active and spend most of their time swimming. The Mississippi Map turtle prefers to live in a group with other Mississippi Maps. Therefore, it is best to have more than one so that they don’t get lonely.

How Much Do Mississippi Map Turtles Cost?

There is a wide range in prices for Mississippi Map Turtles. They can cost anywhere from $15 to $85, with most falling in the middle of that range. The price is dependent on where you buy your turtle, the turtle’s age, and the turtle’s health.

When you buy a turtle, you also need to consider the costs of keeping it happy and healthy. This includes a tank, strong filter, food, lighting, and temperature control.

Typical Behavior & Temperament

The Mississippi Map Turtle is beautiful but shy. They prefer to spend their time in a small group, swimming and hiding in the vegetation in their tank. These turtles are easily stressed, which can lead to health problems and aggression. They have very strong jaws and will bite if they are scared. This makes them a better choice for more experienced turtle owners than beginners.

Appearance & Varieties

Male Mississippi Map Turtles are significantly smaller than their female counterparts. The males are fully grown when they reach 3.5 to 5 inches. Females are twice that size, reaching a full length of 6 to 10 inches.

The shell of the Mississippi Map is the most distinctive feature. The shell is typically olive green or brown. There are interconnected yellow or orange lines and circles covering the shells. These lines look like the lines on a map, which is where they get their name. The undershell is light green or yellow with light brown lines running along the scutes.

The Mississippi Map has a dark green or black body with pale yellow stripes up and down their bodies. They also have yellow crescent-shaped markings over their eyes. These stand out from the rest of the striping on the skin.

How to Take Care of Mississippi Map Turtles

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup

One of the reasons the Mississippi Map is not a good choice for the beginning turtle owner is because they require a lot of care and effort to keep them safe and healthy. They spend most of their time swimming and need the water in their tank to be very clean. However, they also eat in the water and use the water as a toilet. It can be quite a challenge to keep it clean!

Tank

At a minimum, you will need a 25-gallon tank for a male Mississippi Map and a 75-gallon tank for a female. Since they are happiest when kept in groups, you will likely need a larger tank. A good rule to follow is to add half as much for each additional turtle. So, a female with a 75-gallon tank would need at least a 110-gallon tank if it had a mate.

It is crucial that they have enough space to swim, along with a beach area, and a basking spot.

Bedding

The beach of your turtle’s tank can be made of gravel and larger rocks. It needs to give them enough room to fully exit the water, turn around, and dry off. This is necessary to help prevent shell rot.

Temperature

The water temperature in your turtle’s tank should be kept between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The air temperature should be 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. A heat lamp will be needed to maintain this temperature in their basking areas.

Lighting

Lighting in your turtle’s tank should be set to mimic the natural rising and setting of the sun. A good rule of thumb is 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness each day.

Turtles also need UVB lights to help their bodies metabolize calcium. You should change the bulbs every 6 months as they stop providing the needed levels of UVB after about that long.

Plants and Decor

Mississippi Map Turtles like to hide. They do well with a mix of live vegetation and fake plants in their environment. Aquatic caves, rocks, and logs are also good choices for hiding places.

Other Materials

Your Mississippi Map turtle also needs a very strong water filter. To prevent illness, their water needs to be kept very clean. This can be a tough chore since they eat in the water, use the water as a toilet, and nip at the aquatic plants in the tank. You will have to be vigilant about changing the tank water weekly and making sure your filter is in good working order.

Do Mississippi Map Turtles Get Along with Other Pets?

Mississippi Map Turtles get along very well with one another. It is recommended that they not be kept in isolation as they will get bored and lonely. However, females can be much more aggressive than males. It is best to limit the number of females kept together.

They also should not be allowed around other pets like cats or dogs as these turtles will bite when startled.

What to Feed Your Mississippi Map Turtle

Like most turtles, Mississippi Maps are omnivores. They will only eat when they are in the water. The majority of their diet should come from turtle pellets and fresh, leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, spinach, and parsley.

Other proteins can also be healthy for your turtles. Females are larger and thus have stronger jaws. They can more readily handle food with hard shells, such as snails. Males need smaller foods like shrimp.

Occasionally, you can also give your turtles treats. Small pieces of fresh fruit or fish are good choices.

Keeping Your Mississippi Map Turtle Healthy

The biggest cause of health problems in pet Mississippi Maps is unclean water. If their water is not kept completely clean at all times, they can suffer from fungal infections. Fungal infections can spread and cause problems with your turtle’s skin and shell.

If you do not provide your turtle with the right amount of UVB light, they can develop metabolic bone diseases which will result in shell cracking and deformities.

You should observe your turtle for any behavior irregularities. If they are lethargic or not eating, you should bring them to the veterinarian.

Breeding

Female Mississippi Map Turtles typically can lay eggs up to 3 times each year. Each time, she may lay anywhere from 5 to 20 eggs. The eggs take 50 to 70 days to hatch. The Mississippi Map lays her eggs outside of the water, but still very near the shore.

divider-turtleAre Mississippi Map Turtles Suitable For You?

The Mississippi Map is a high-maintenance turtle and is not for the novice turtle owner. However, a dedicated and experienced handler will find this beautiful species to be an interesting pet. If you have had success owning turtles in the past and can provide this species with the clean water and space they need, then the Mississippi Map might be a great choice for you.


Featured Image Credit: Ken Schulze, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.