Description: The Alabama map turtle is a medium to
large sized aquatic turtle. Turtles in this genus are easily
recognized by the dorsal keel on their shell, but these
projections often wear down with age. Juveniles have a dark stripe
running down the olive carapace and a concentric pattern of
yellow lines on each marginal scute. The top of the head
is patterned with a large olive mask between and behind the eyes.
A light bar runs longitudinally from the chin towards the neck.
The plastron is light yellow with some darker coloration following
the seams. Adult males range from 9-12.7 cm (3.5-5 in) and retain
most of the pattern found on juvenile specimens. Adult females
are considerably larger [18-29.2 cm (7-11.5 in)] and have extremely
large heads used to crush snails and other mollusks. Females often
become drab in coloration and can lose most of the markings found
on juvenile and male specimens. Since juveniles and males lack
the large head and strong jaws, their diets consist of more aquatic
Range and Habitat: The Alabama map turtle is confined
to the Mobile Bay drainage basin. It occurs in Alabama, Georgia,
Florida, Mississippi, and possibly Louisiana. In our region they
are only found in a few rivers of northeastern Georgia. They inhabit
lotic habitats like large rivers and streams. They have been observed
in large muddy rivers and rocky streams.
Habits: Juvenile and male Alabama Map Turtles can be found
in shallow water habitats and often bask on fallen logs and piles
of brush. Females prefer deeper areas.
Conservation Status: This species is listed as rare in
Georgia and is protected in Alabama. It is a species of special
concern in Mississippi. Map turtles are often confined to specific
river systems, which places them at a greater risk for extirpation.
Ernst, C.H., J. E. Lovich, and R. Barbour. Turtles of the United
States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C.
Account Author: Austin Meadows, University of Georgia
- revised by J.D. Willson