False Map Turtle

(Graptemys pseudogeographica)

Reptiles Alive Name: Atlas

Hisssstory: Atlas was an unwanted pet that someone released into a Fairfax VA pond. A park naturalist was able to capture the turtle and then transferred it to Reptiles Alive.

RA Diet: Atlas eats a diet of crickets, superworms, earthworms, and special zoo turtle pellet food.

Natural Diet: In the wild, false map turtles will eat a variety of aquatic insects, mollusks, and fish.

Range: False map turtles range all along the Mississippi river and its tributaries in the mid-western United States.

Habitat: False map turtles prefer rivers and streams with a current and plenty of vegetation to hide in and fallen logs to bask on.
Size: Male map turtles grow to around 6 inches in length. Females grow larger, up to 12 inches long.

Lifespan: False map turtles can live 35 years or more.

Reproduction: False map turtle mate twice a year in spring and then again in fall. Males wiggle their front feet to get the female’s attention. Clutches of 8-22 eggs are laid in burrows dug by the females in sandy soil. Like many reptiles, the temperature at which the eggs are incubated determines if the baby turtles will be male or female.

Conservation Issues: Although false map turtles are not currently listed as threatened, their populations are subject to the same threats as other aquatic species including water pollution and habitat destruction.

Cool Facts: False map turtles belong to the same genus Graptemys as all other map turtles, so their is nothing false about calling them a map turtle. Map turtles are also known sawback turtles because of the pointy protrusions along the back of their shell.

“Children were held spellbound despite the last day of school!” – Jo Ellen Frasch, Teacher at Oak Hill Elementary