Skip to Content

Barbour’s Map Turtle

Barbour’s map turtle (Graptemys barbouri) is an aquatic species of the Emydidae family, commonly found in the southeastern United States. This species is known for its unique carapace patterning and behavior that make it a fascinating subject for study among herpetologists.

The distribution range and habitat preferences of this turtle have been well documented, but there are still many areas to explore when studying Barbour’s map turtles.

Species Overview

Barbour’s Map Turtle is a species of turtle found in the southeastern United States. It belongs to the genus Graptemys, which consists of seven closely related map turtles that are endemic to North America.

The most distinguishing feature of this species is its carapace, or shell, which has an array of yellow lines radiating from the center with a dark background color. As such, it is commonly referred to as Barbour’s Map Turtle due to its unique markings resembling a map.

Barbour’s Map Turtles occur mainly in rivers and creeks over sand or gravel bottoms where they feed on small aquatic organisms such as mollusks, crayfish and insects. They can be found basking along shorelines during sunny days and nesting seasonally between May and July.

Females lay up to 9 clutches per year with 8-20 eggs each. Hatchlings emerge in late summer or early fall after approximately three months incubation period and reach sexual maturity at 3-5 years old depending on environmental conditions as well as food availability.

This species faces many threats including habitat loss, water pollution and collection for pet trade markets. Conservation efforts have been made to help protect these turtles through both state regulations and educational outreach programs about their importance within native ecosystems.

Habitat And Range

Barbour’s map turtle is found in freshwater habitats, primarily rivers. It ranges throughout most of the southeastern United States and along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida. The following are key components of its habitat:

  • Aquatic vegetation
  • Areas with slow-moving water
  • Sandy or muddy substrates
  • Logs, stumps, rocks, and other debris for basking

In addition to these elements, Barbour’s map turtles need access to deeper waters (upwards of 15 feet) during extreme weather conditions such as drought and floods. This species prefers medium-sized streams or large river systems with moderate currents; however, it can also be found in lakes and ponds when aquatic vegetation is present.

When given adequate room to roam, this species will inhabit a variety of aquatic habitats including swamps and oxbow lakes that have become disconnected from the main body of water they originated from. While capable of surviving in slightly brackish conditions, their range remains largely restricted to freshwater environments.

Due to increased development within their native range, there has been an observed decrease in available natural habitats for this species. As a result, many populations rely on artificial reservoirs and manmade wetlands as primary sources of refuge which may lead to further population declines if not properly managed.

Physical Characteristics

Barbour’s Map Turtle is known for its distinctive carapace, which presents a pattern of yellow lines and blotches on an olive green or brownish-black background. The shell can reach up to 12 inches in length and has four prominent ridges that run down the back and sides of the turtle. Its claws are long, sharp and curved with webbed feet adapted for swimming.

The head is marked by distinct stripes of yellow outlined in black along both sides, extending from behind the eye down to the neck. Clear patches may be present between each stripe, while eyes are typically dark brown but sometimes light blue in color. Both sexes have similar markings; however males tend to have longer tails than females.

Barbour’s map turtles live mostly aquatic lives, spending considerable time basking on logs at riverbanks or among vegetation near shorelines. They inhabit slow moving rivers and tributaries with sandbars where they feed mainly on snails, insects and other invertebrates found in shallow water.

In addition to their striking appearance and behavior, Barbour’s map turtles also make popular pets due to their docile nature when handled properly. Their diet consists primarily of plant matter such as lettuce, spinach or fruits as well as occasional worms or crickets making them relatively easy to care for in captivity.

Diet And Feeding Habits

Barbour’s map turtles are omnivorous, with dietary requirements including both plant and animal matter. They primarily feed on aquatic plants, as well as various types of aquatic insects such as fly larvae, beetles, mayflies and dragonflies. Additionally, mollusks like snails and clams can be found in their diet.

Feeding habits vary depending upon the individual turtle’s size and age. Adult Barbour’s map turtles usually forage for food near the surface during daylight hours. Juveniles tend to feed closer to the bottom or along shorelines where there is vegetation, searching for food items such as crayfish, worms and small fish.

The preferred habitat includes areas which provide an abundance of basking sites close to shallow water that contains a variety of vegetation sources. This allows them access to plenty of feeding opportunities with minimal effort expended while they bask in the sun throughout most of the day before seeking out their next meal.

Reproduction And Lifespan

Barbour’s map turtles are unique in their reproductive behavior. Like many turtle species, they mate in the spring and early summer months. But unlike some other types of turtles, Barbour’s map turtles often return to their hibernation grounds for mating – a fascinating phenomenon known as ‘hibernal philopatry’.

During mating season, male Barbour’s map turtles will travel great distances in search of receptive females. They are also incredibly energetic during this time, displaying aggressive behaviors such as chasing and biting at potential mates.

When it comes to nesting, female Barbour’s map turtles lay between 3-7 clutches per year with usually 2-9 eggs per clutch. The nest is then covered with soil or vegetation by the mother turtle before she returns to her aquatic habitat. After hatching, these young hatchlings make an incredible journey from their nests down to nearby rivers or streams where they spend most of their lives living and feeding underwater.

The lifespan of a Barbour’s map turtle varies greatly depending on its environment but generally speaking can range anywhere from 10 to 30 years; however some have been reported to live even longer than that! With proper care and nutrition they can thrive in captivity easily reaching the upper end of their life expectancy.

Conservation Status

Barbour’s map turtle (Graptemys barbouri) is an endangered species of freshwater turtles. The global population of these turtles has been declining due to habitat destruction and climate change. As a result, conservation efforts have been implemented in order to protect this species from further decline.

The primary threat facing the survival of Barbour’s map turtle is loss and degradation of their natural habitats. Human activities such as land development and pollution are destroying critical wetland habitats that provide food resources for the turtles. In addition, climate change is affecting water quality and temperature levels which can be detrimental to the reproductive success of this species.

To help conserve the remaining populations of Barbour’s map turtle, several organizations including Turtle Survival Alliance are promoting research into understanding the ecology, behavior, and genetics of this species.

Conservationists are also advocating for increased protection for vital wetlands used by these turtles along with implementing reintroduction techniques where necessary. Through education initiatives and outreach programs, people can increase awareness about threats posed on freshwater turtles like Barbour’s map turtle while increasing support for conservation efforts.

By protecting important habitats and raising awareness among local communities, there may still be hope that Barbour’s map turtle will see its numbers recover in the near future.

Interactions With Humans

Barbour’s map turtle is a species that has an incredibly close relationship with humans. This bond between the two can be seen in the various ways they have been integrated into our lives. From being used as pets to having their habitats altered and manipulated by us, these turtles have come to rely on human interaction for many aspects of their survival.

Pet TradeUsed extensively as pet worldwide; large numbers taken from wild populations
HabitatHuman-driven alterations such as dams, pollution, habitat fragmentation threaten population stability
ConservationInternational conservation efforts focus on protecting Barbour’s Map Turtle & its habitat

The effects of these interactions are far reaching and often detrimental to the species’ long term prospects. As one of the most heavily trafficked reptiles in international markets, hundreds of thousands of individuals are removed from their natural environment each year purely for commercial purposes.

Furthermore, due to increasing levels of water contamination and other human activities, their natural habitats are constantly under threat across much of North America. The result is declining population sizes which make it even more difficult for them to survive.

Despite this grim picture, there is still hope for Barbour’s map turtles. In recent years increased awareness about conservation issues has led to numerous initiatives aimed at preserving this species and its habitat.

Many organizations now dedicate resources towards research projects designed to protect both the turtles and their environment from further damage caused by human activity. These efforts provide invaluable insight into how we can better manage our relationship with this majestic creature so that future generations may continue to appreciate it in all its glory.


Barbour’s Map Turtles are a species of turtle found across the southeastern United States. They inhabit slow-moving rivers and streams, particularly those with abundant vegetation and debris to provide hiding spots from predators.

These turtles have distinct yellow stripes running along the length of their carapace that help set them apart from other species in the region. They feed primarily on insects and aquatic invertebrates, though they may consume plant matter as well. The females reach maturity at around 8 years old and will lay clutches of 6–12 eggs each year during spring or early summer months.

Today, Barbour’s Map Turtles remain relatively common throughout its range; however, due to habitat destruction, pollution, and overcollection for the pet trade, this species is listed as “near threatened” by IUCN Red List. To preserve these fascinating creatures for future generations, it is essential that we continue to protect their habitats from degradation by humans.

Additionally, more research needs to be conducted into viable captive breeding programs so populations can recover if necessary. Some may object to such measures because of cost concerns; however, given the potential benefits associated with preserving this species, investing in conservation efforts now could save much greater costs later down the line when wild populations face further decline or extirpation altogether.