Barbour’s Map Turtle Care and Natural History

Estimated read time 6 min read

All 13 Map Turtle species are fascinating and enticing, with several being extremely prized by reptile followers. Though greatest reserved for knowledgeable keepers, Barbour’s Map Turtle (Graptemys barbouri) deserves extra consideration from personal fanatics and zoos. With a specialized food plan and restricted vary, it faces an unsure future within the wild. I had the nice fortune to work with Barbour’s Map Turtles on the Bronx Zoo and want to go alongside some ideas for these as much as the problem of maintaining this spectacular creature.

Barbour’s Map Turtle


Feminine Barbour’s Map Turtles are spectacular, with noticeably broadheads and shells that will method 12 inches in size. The narrow-headed males are a lot smaller – a mere three.2 to five—two inches lengthy – to look like a particular species.

The carapace is brown to olive-green, with pale yellow or white marks alongside its edge, and is topped by two spine-like ridges. Yellow stripes enhance the neck and legs, and there are blotches of yellow behind the eyes.

Different Map Turtles, whereas smaller, exhibit a wide selection of carapace “decorations,” colors, and habits. You can learn extra about a few of these within the articles linked beneath. Pictured right here is the spectacular Ringed Map Turtle (G. oculifera).

Vary and Habitat

The vary of this USA endemic is restricted to the Apalachicola River System within the Florida Panhandle and Georgia.

Barbour’s Map Turtle is restricted to clear, limestone-bottomed streams that include quite a few fallen branches and timber. Extremely aquatic, it spends a lot of time basking on logs, plunging into the water when disturbed. The Barbour’s Map Turtle feeds solely in water, and, besides, when nesting, not often travels removed from shore.

The Aquarium

These massive, energetic turtles require spacious properties. Whereas a 55-gallon aquarium may swimsuit a small male, females want tanks of 125 – 200 gallon capability or business turtle tubs and ponds.

Wading swimming pools are sometimes simpler to handle than aquariums. Koi ponds typically include cabinets meant to carry crops; these work nicely as turtle basking areas. Doors housing is right, assuming that raccoons and different predators may be excluded.

Though extremely aquatic, all map turtles want a dry floor on which to bask. Industrial turtle docks will suffice for small specimens. Cork bark, wedged or affixed through silicone to the aquarium’s sides, is an effective possibility for adults.


Turtles are messy feeders and very arduous on high water quality. Submersible or canister filters are obligatory, except the enclosure may be emptied and cleaned several occasions weekly (I’ve discovered the Zoo Med Turtle Clean Filter to be ideally suited). Even with filtration, partial water modifications are important.

Eradicating your turtles to an easily cleaned container for feeding will reduce the filter’s workload and assist in maintaining the water clear.


Naked-bottomed aquariums are greatest, as gravel traps meals and wastes, tremendously complicating cleansing, and could also be swallowed together with meals.

Gentle and Warmth

Heliothermic turtles (those who bask) require UVB radiation in captivity. If a fluorescent bulb is used (the Zoo Med 10.0 Bulb supplies excessive UVB output), make certain that the turtle can bask inside 6-12 inches of it. Mercury vapor bulbs broadcast UVB over better distances and additionally present helpful UVA radiation. Natural daylight is the perfect UVB supply; however, bear in mind that the tumbler filters out UVB rays.

Water temperatures of 72-80 Fought to be maintained. An incandescent highlight bulb ought to be used to heat the basking website to 90 F.


Barbour’s Map Turtles will eat or chase fishes, newts, and aquatic frogs.

Females and juveniles could get alongside; however, be ready to deal with them individually as aggression usually develops over time. Males usually harass females with mating, make an attempt, and could stress or chew them within the course of; grownup males can’t be saved collectively.


Within the wild, feminine Barbour’s Map Turtles feed virtually fully upon recent water mussels, snails, and crayfish. Males take smaller snails, bugs, crayfish, and fish.

Pets ought to be supplied a food plan comprised largely of snails, crayfish, and mussels, together with complete fishes, earthworms, and prawns. These beneath my care accepted apple snails and different native and launched species that I collected and bred, European land snails (established in NY, and accessible in seafood markets), freshwater mussels, and clams periwinkles, crayfish, shiners, minnows, inexperienced crabs and fiddler crabs.

Goldfish should be used sparingly, if in any respect, as a gentle goldfish food plan has been linked to kidney and liver problems in different turtle species. A high-quality commercial turtle chow can comprise as much as 30% of the food plan. A cuttlebone ought to be accessible to complement the calcium offered by complete fishes and related meals.

Different vital meals objects embody earthworms, krill, freeze-dried river shrimp, and, to a lesser extent, crickets and other bugs.


Discipline research points out that females take 20 or extra years to achieve breeding age. Together with their small pure and previous over-collection for the pet commerce, this reality threatens the way forward for the Barbour’s Map Turtle. Copy has not been well-studied within the wild; however, pets have produced 6-9 eggs in June and July.

Gravid females often turn stressed and could refuse meals. They need to be eliminated to a big container (i.e., 5x the size and width of the turtle) provisioned with 6-Eight inches of barely moist soil and sand; please see article linked beneath). Gravid females that don’t nest should be seen by a veterinarian as egg retention invariably results in a deadly infection generally known as egg peritonitis. It is a very important word that females could develop eggs even when unmated and that captives could produce several clutches every year.

The eggs could also be incubated in moist vermiculite at 82-86 F for 60-85 days. Please publish beneath for additional particulars regarding captive copy.


These shy turtles regulate nicely to captivity if offered correct situations; however, they could not turn into as responsive as different map turtles. All turtles can administer highly effective bites and scratches when frightened and should be dealt with with care.

You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours