Ouachita Map Turtle
Excerpted from: Animal Diversity
|Ouachita Map Turtle
||30 to 50 years
||Males: 3.5 to 6.5 inches
Females: 5 to 10.5 inches
||Carapace is olive, dark brown, or black in coloration with light
yellowish markings with dark borders.
||60 to 82 days
||6 to 15 eggs
||Sponges, bryozoans, clams, snails, crayfish, and spiders.
The Ouachita Map Turtle (pronounced wa-chi-tau) has a dark olive green carapace with a
strong dorsal (midline) keel, and a strongly serrated back edge. The female carapace is
5.5 to 10 inches; the male carapace is 3.5 to 6.25 inches.The center ridge of the midline
dorsal scutes is black and elevated toward the back. Each carapace scute usually has a
dark blotch toward the posterior edge that is outlined by a thin, faint yellow line. These lines
often interconnect with other lines creating a map-like pattern on the shell. The head has a
large yellowish crescent or blotch behind the eyes and a distinct yellow spot under the eye
on the lower jaw. The highly patterned plastron of a hatchling has greenish-gray lines on a
pale yellow background, but this fades to a non-descript blotchy bottom with age.
The estimated lifespan of the Ouachita Map Turtle is likely 30-50 years.
This species are active from late March to mid-October, with shorter active periods
in the north and longer active periods in the south. They have a tendency to
hibernate in groups. Winterkill has been documented during dry winters in some
locations within the range. These species, including juveniles, spend a large portion
of their day basking. Selected basking locations are seldom on or near shore and
can be as high as 80 inches above the water surface. While basking, these species
are wary and difficult to approach; one turtle re-entering the water due to disturbance
often leads others to follow.
The Ouachita Map turtle is generally omnivorous. Prey species include: freshwater
sponges; bryozoans; clams; snails; crayfish; spiders; insects and their larvae; fish;
algae; carrion; and assorted seeds, fruits, and leaves of plants. Occasionally, adult
females will use a feeding technique known as “benthic bulldozing”, in which large
quantities of bottom detritus and benthic prey are indiscriminately ingested.
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