Ouachita Map Turtle, Graptemys ouachitensis

Ouachita Map Turtle

Graptemys ouachitensis

Excerpted from: Animal Diversity

Ouachita Map Turtle
Graptemys ouachitensis
Lifespan 30 to 50 years
Length Males: 3.5 to 6.5 inches
Females: 5 to 10.5 inches
Color Carapace is olive, dark brown, or black in coloration with light yellowish markings with dark borders.
Gestation Period 60 to 82 days
Clutch Size 6 to 15 eggs
Diet 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.

Further Reading:

 Beavers — Nature's Hydrologist, Part 2
 Garter Snakes — The Gardener's Friend
 Wisconsin Native Salamanders
 Goundhog or Woochuck: All The Facts
 Voles, Both The Good and The Bad

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