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Promoting Public Awareness Of Wildlife Habitats Through Environmental Education

Addition to the Family!

A false map turtle is a semi-aquatic turtle that can be found in large rivers such as the Missouri and Mississippi in the United States. The false map turtle covers a large geographic area on the Eastern half of Unites Stated. It can be found in the Southern States from Texas to Alabama as well as Northern States from the Dakota’s to Ohio. This is a smaller turtle, varying in shell length from about 7-25 cm, depending on the sex. The male is generally quite a bit smaller for most turtle species.

The false map turtle can be identified by their distinct colouring and shell. The shell has a very prominent keel, the ridge running down the centre of the shell like a spine, which appears almost spiked. The edge of the shell also has very noticeable serrated edges on the hind scutes. The shell itself is a brown or olive green colour with a map-like design on it in a lighter brown or yellow colour. The plastron, or lower shell, is yellow with darker map-like designs as well as dark lines following the scute divisions. The body of the turtle is brown or slightly green with bright yellow lines and thick backward L shape lines behind each eye. This L-shaped line is what allows us to distinguish between a false map turtle and a Mississippi map turtle which are similar subspecies and found in the same area. The Mississippi map has a crescent behind the eye in place of the L shape making the two subspecies difficult to differentiate. The two species can be compared, in the pictures, to our native Northern Map turtle.

Neither of these species of map turtles are found in Ontario, however, we do have our own species of map turtle in Ontario and it can be found in our region. The Northern Map turtle is very similar to its fellow map turtles although it is a bit larger and again the pattern on its body is different. The main difference again is the shape of the pattern on the head. Behind the eye there is a bright yellow circle with similar lines around it.