Black-Knobbed Map Turtle

The Black-Knobbed Map Turtle – if you set your eyes on this one, you will surely be captivated. It comes with some of the coolest, built-in body weaponry that can be found in the natural world. It has unique spines on its back that will rival some of the weapons wielded by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

This special little creature hails from Alabama and can be found from central to Western Mississippi. It likes to hang around near rivers, dining out on small fish and insects and picking its favorite basking spots to soak up some sun.

These turtles tend to lose a lot more water than your average turtle, so it is imperative that they be kept near certain water sources. If you are thinking about keeping this animal as a pet, we would recommend giving it a wide-open pen with at least 4 inches of water for it to paddle in.

So where can you find these amazing turtles? How do they mate and at what times of the year? Should you keep this pet around children and mammals such as dogs and cats? How much do these critters eat? When do these turtles like to bask? How much will it cost to keep one of these things?

Well, if you want the answer to these questions and a whole lot more, we would suggest that you read on. We’ll give you a comprehensive guide to this turtle, which will hopefully help you decide whether or not you want one for your terrarium.

Male Vs. Female

The female of this species is generally larger than the male, roughly twice the size. They also have a carapace that is harder and denser. However, the male has a longer and pointier tail than the females.


The most striking characteristic of this turtle are the nubs that you can find on the turtle’s back. This will offer it some protection against predators, as well as helping to right itself when it is upturned.

The carapace is dark and olive-brown with yellow circular rings on the shell. The hatchlings have lighter colors than the adults, although these grow darker and more prominent over time.

As a Pet

This animal is much friendlier than some of the other breeds of this species of box turtle, although they still do not like to be handled that much. These animals are very large and you’ll need quite a lot of room in your terrarium to house this creature.

We would also recommend that you only keep one of these as pets, as they tend to become a lot more aggressive, particularly around breeding season.


If taken care of properly, these turtles can live around 20 to 30 years in captivity. Some turtles in the wild have been shown to last much longer than this too.


The main breeding adaptation is the spines on the shell, which have developed to stop the turtle from getting attacked by various predators. These animals have also developed to thrive in very humid environments, usually by the sides of rivers.

They also are known to bask in the sun. This has been rumored to remove its skin from parasites.

Breeding Season

Like most other box turtles of this variety, this creature will be ready to mate in the early springtime, either during the beginning or March or late in April. If you are selecting your turtle for breeding, you’ll want to make sure that they are separate during this time as they can become very violent.


The Black-Knobbed Turtle will lay eggs that are generally thicker in diameter than some of the other breeds of box turtles. They will usually lay two batches of around 2-11 eggs that will hatch after a period of around 70 days.

Growth Rate

This male turtle will take up to 3 years to mature, while the female will take around 8-9 years to reach her sexual maturity. The hatchlings will take around 1 year to grow to their full size.

Life Cycle

This turtle will live for around 30 years if taken care of well in captivity. Some of these turtles have lower mortality in the wild as they are more susceptible to predators.


This species has had its climate under threat for decades due to the erosion of rivers and the changing of their homes to reservoirs. This change in the silt level will often affect the food that these things feed on to, such as mussels and saltwater crayfish.


In captivity, the black-knobbed turtle will eat a whole range of foods, including ground beef, dog food, lettuce, as well as the usual insects and worms. This animal, in the wild, eats around 58% animal matter, with the rest being plant-based. This is why it is important to give your turtle a well-rounded diet.

Females have also been reported to feed on green algae that are often found in the river beds where they live.


In the wild, the main predators of the black-knobbed map turtle are alligators, largemouth bass, raccoons, fish crows, armadillos, American bullfrogs and American alligators. These turtles have the benefit of being able to retreat into their spiny shells, which can deter such smaller predators as raccoons and crows.

Roaming Range

These turtles have been reported to have a territory of around 1.5 km, although it is highly unlikely that they will reach this in one day. If you are keeping these animals in captivity, we would recommend that you give them at least 5 x 5 square feet of room.


These turtles are very susceptible to liver and kidney disease. If you have noticed that your turtle is losing color or is off their food, then we would suggest that you take it to the vet to make sure that it doesn’t have any one of these ailments.

These turtles will also experience some parasites that exist just beneath the surface of their skin. This can cause itching and irritation that could eventually lead to more extreme lesions. You should check your turtle a few times a week to make sure that they do not have these parasites.

Eye Color

These turtles have a brownish eye color, although some experts have said that the females have more of a reddish hue to their eyes.


These turtles have developed the ability to last for a long time in hot weather, so in their natural habitat, they can be found basking for most of the time on a rock to get rid of parasites.

However, in captivity where the weather tends to fluctuate a whole lot more, you can be sure that your turtle will seek out a small cave or hole so that it can escape the drop in temperature. Colder climates will generally make this animal a lot more lethargic.

Can They Swim?

These animals certainly can swim, you can often find them at the bottom of river beds hunting for crayfish and other insects that dwell by the riverside. If you have a black-knobbed map turtle in captivity, then we would recommend that you have at least 4-inches of water in the enclosure so that this turtle can hydrate itself regularly.

This species tends to experience a lot more moisture loss than other box turtles, so make sure that you are giving it regular watering.

Care Costs

It will cost you around $50 to buy one of these turtles, although you’ll have to make sure that you have enough of a budget each month for food. One of the reasons that we would recommend that you keep one of these turtles outdoors is that you can save a lot of money on food for this turtle.

On average, this will cost you around $30 a month, although that is not including vets bills. If you are going to buy insects for your turtle, make sure that they are alive, as dead insects will often not excite your turtle.

Fun Facts

  • Females have a much larger carapace than males, with the shell reaching up to 178 mm in length. The females are usually around twice the size of the males.
  • Basking is a large part of the black-knobbed turtle’s routine. Scientists have thought that the reason they do this is to get rid of ticks from their bodies or purely for pleasure.
  • Not a lot is known about this turtle’s foraging behavior, but it is thought they like to consume beetles and dragonflies that have fallen into the river.
  • These turtles do not like to be handled, but they have been known to respond well to getting stroked on the head and under the chin.