Ouachita Map Turtle: Ultimate Guide

When it comes to turtles kept in captivity, one of the more popular breeds is the Ouachita Map turtle. This is very easy to care for, with a great temperament that is not that different from the common North American turtle. This has contour lines on the body that gives this turtle its great name.

These turtles are also very large. The female is over twice the size of the puny male, so you’ll need to make sure that you have at least 5 feet square inches for it to roam around in. The males often reach full sexual maturity a lot quicker than the females and if you are thinking of breeding them, you should try and keep them apart.

This turtle has a dark, ridged carapace with a light olive coloring. The plastorn underneath the turtle can vary in color, although most of the time it is a light yellow with rings that are dark around the edges.

So where exactly can you find this turtle? What distinctive behaviors does this Ouachita animal have? Do they make good pets? How much will you have to fork out for one of these turtles? Do the males and the females behave differently? What do these animals eat? What is the life cycle of these turtles?

Well, if you have a yearning for answers to all these turtle-related questions, then we would suggest that you read onwards. We have compiled a definitive list of this turtle’s features, covering everything from its eating and breeding habits to how many eggs that it lays. After reading this you’ll more or less know whether you’ll want this turtle for your terrarium.

Male Vs. Female

The main distinction between the male and female Ouachita turtles is the size. The female is over double the size of the male, which is obvious when you look at them. If you think you are going to be keeping females for breeding purposes, then you’ll have to make sure that you have enough space to accommodate them.

We would suggest that you have an enclosure that is at least 6 feet by 6 feet wide to allow the female enough room to move around. You’ll also need to make sure that these creatures have enough space to separate them.

Identification

You can often spot this turtle by the shape and contours of its carapace. It has ridged spines across the back and along the outside of its carapace. The shell itself is an olive green color with a light brown hue.

This turtle has yellow spots over its eyes, which are both to ward off predators and to identify it to members of the opposite sex. The body color of this turtle is greyish with black and yellow stripes on the side.

As a Pet

This pet is one of the easiest turtles to keep. It has very low maintenance and can be largely left to its own devices. This is a great turtle for beginners and anyone who has not kept turtles before.

If you have juvenile turtles, you can keep them in around 20 gallons of water. However, once these animals reach adulthood, then you’ll need to transfer them to a much bigger tank. You’ll need to make sure that the water you use is completely free of chlorine so that you don’t irritate the turtle’s delicate skin.

Lifespan

Like a lot of turtles of this breed, this one will last you around 15-20 years. If you keep this turtle well, making sure its tank is cleaned regularly and it has a regular supply of food, then you can expect this creature to last you even longer than that.

Adaptations

This turtle has developed a binocular vision to help it see in nature. The eyes are on the side of its head to help you to watch for predators. The color of the turtle helps it to blend in with the background, while the bright colors on the face are meant to ward other animals away from it.

The ridged shell also helps this one in nature too. It can retreat into its shell when it is being attacked by animals. The spines on the shell can keep curious birds and other ravenous animals from breaking it open and getting into the innards of the animal.

Breeding Season

Like a lot of other similar turtles of this size, it likes to breed around the springtime, usually in March or late April. Despite the difference in size, the males can usually be the more aggressive of the two genders when it is mating.

Eggs

This turtle will lay a few clutches of around 6-15 eggs, each of which has a diameter of around 4mm. The eggs will be yellowish, and can often find themselves prey to newts, frogs and largemouth bass fish.

In the wild, the female Ouachita turtle has been observed, in very rare instances when food is scarce, to eat her eggs soon after giving birth to them. If you feel that this is going to happen in captivity, then we would suggest that you remove the eggs from the female soon after they have been born.

Growth Rate

The male reaches maturity much quicker than the female, with most of the males becoming fully developed at around the age of 3. The females become fully developed at around the age of 15.

Life Cycle

This creature will live up to 15 years if taken care of well in captivity. There have been instances of these turtles living up to 20 years old.

Population

The conservation status of this turtle is very low, which means that there are plenty of them currently around. One of the major threats to this turtle’s habitat in the wild is the development of reservoirs, which can decimate some of the food sources that this animal thrives off.

Diet

This turtle thrives off mollusks, shrimp and other freshwater animals. It will also eat dead insects that drop into the river. They have also been known to eat small fish that they hunt in the bottom of the river.

If you are keeping this animal in captivity, we would recommend that you keep it outdoors, as it can catch live insects by itself.

Predators

These turtles are preyed upon by a wide variety of animals, including fish crows, alligators, cranes, largemouth bass fish and, most detrimentally, human beings. These turtles will often not face down a predator, choosing instead to run away. However, if a turtle is cornered, it will retreat into its shell.

Roaming Range

This turtle, in the wild, has been known to cover about 150 km of the river’s edge. If you are keeping this one in an enclosure, make sure that you have at least 6 square feet of space so that it can roam around.

The females will obviously need a lot more room than the males, as they are substantially larger. Make sure that you have at least 30 gallons of water for the fully grown adults to use.

Diseases

This turtle is subject to parasites, which can cause severe irritation to its skin. Take your turtle to the vet to eradicate these pesky mites.

Eye Color

This turtle has yellow eyes with a black line that runs through the center. Experts have said that the female has slightly more reddish eyes.

Hibernation

This turtle can often be found hiding away during the cooler weather, although it does not hibernate in the same way as a lot of mammals. It will often reduce its activity in lower temperatures to conserve energy. However, it will not reduce its heart rate in the same way as mammals do in hibernation.

Can They Swim?

These turtles do like to swim and it is how they catch most of their food in the wild. This turtle will lose a lot of body moisture, so it is crucial that if you are keeping it in captivity, that you keep it near a rich water source.

You need to make sure that the water that you are using for your turtle is free of contaminants. This means that it will not have any skin irritation that could damage your turtle and even lead to its death.

Care Costs

You can get one for these turtles for around $50-$100 in most aquariums, although you’ll need to make sure that you set aside a monthly budget for your turtle. On average, you’ll probably find yourself spending around $20-$30 a month on maintaining your turtle.

Fun Facts

  • The female turtle is much larger than the male, which can often lead to problems during the breeding season.
  • The hatchlings of this turtle are usually fully grown adults within a few months of being born.

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