Yellow-Blotched Map Turtle: Ultimate Guide

If you’re interested in learning about the Yellow-blotched Map Turtle, you may find it hard to spot one in the wild, as this turtle species is actually currently listed as endangered.

Fortunately, these turtles make great pets! So, if you’d like to keep a Yellow-blotched Map Turtle, this ultimate guide to caring for the species will provide you with everything you need to know before bringing your new turtle friend home.

Male vs Female

There are a couple of distinguishable features to discern between a male and a female Yellow-Blotched Map Turtle.

The main difference is their size. Adult females will grow to be larger than adult males. Females can attain a carapace (upper shell) length of up to 20 cm whereas a male’s carapace will grow up to 12 cm in length.

Another defining feature is that males will have a black spine on the first four vertebral scutes, but females won’t have one at all, or it will be significantly smaller.


When identifying a Yellow-Blotched Map Turtle, there are a few key features to look out for. Yellow-Blotched Map Turtles are medium-sized with a carapace that is olive to light brown in color. Each turtle’s shell is unique, but the Yellow-blotched map turtles will have some sort of  irregular orange or yellow blotch on each costal scute.

Yellow-Blotched Map Turtles actually have the highest central keel of all the map turtles. The keel is a ridge that runs from the front to the back of the turtle. So, these turtles will appear ‘taller’ than your average turtle.

They also have off white colored plastrons (the bottom of the shell structure) and their skin has bright yellow banded markings all over it.

These turtles also have serrated ridges along the spine of their shells which is what earned them their nickname the ‘Yellow-blotched sawback turtle’.

The Yellow-Blotched Map Turtle is part of the narrow-head complex Graptemys, so they have much narrower heads than a lot of the other types of map turtles. This makes them excellent at eating insects.

As a Pet

The Yellow-blotched Map Turtle can make a great pet for first-time owners, they require very little attention and are happy to get on with things by themselves.

They do require quite large tanks, especially the females, as well as a fast-moving water simulator.

They don’t like a lot of affection and won’t enjoy being handled at first.


The Yellow-blotched Map Turtle can live for up to 50 years, although risk of disease, predators, destruction of habitat reduce their lifespan significantly, to the point where this turtle species is listed as endangered.


The Yellow-blotched Map Turtle have adapted so that as adults, they develop large, muscular jaws as a natural response to eating hard-shelled crayfish and snails.

Breeding Season

During breeding season, Yellow-blotched Map Turtles perform a mating ritual that involves a kind of ‘dance’ to let each other know. It involves the male and female facing each other and stroking each others head with their claws.


Females will lay between five and seven eggs and will lay them between three and four times a year. They will lay their eggs in any area where they will be able to burrow such as sandbars.


There isn’t very much known about the population of Yellow-blotched Map Turtles they’re listed as endangered. This is predominantly due to the dangers they face such as pollution and habitat destruction.

In terms of where you might find one in the wild, their geographical area is very confined, so their habitat is super distinct.

While sighting one of these fascinating creatures is incredibly rare, you will most likely come across a Yellow-blotched Map Turtle in the Pascagoula’s current in areas where the water is rocky or sandy.


A Yellow-blotched map turtle are predominantly insectivores, as their narrow necks make them specialized for catching and feeding on insects.

That being said, they are quite opportunistic eater, so they will also tend to feed on fish, crustaceans, mollusks and even plants at times.

Adults will develop large, muscular jaws as a natural response to eating hard-shelled crayfish and snails.

As pets, these turtles will tend to eat similar things like snails, crickets, worms and other insects.


Yellow-blotched Map Turtles are vulnerable to predators and threats. When disturbed, they will tend to retreat to the water.

Unprotected Yellow-blotched Map Turtles are often preyed upon by scavenging birds like crows. Nesting females are particularly vulnerable to predators trying to take their eggs,

These turtles are also vulnerable to other threats such as habitat destruction and shooting for sport by humans.

Roaming Range

The Yellow-Blotched Map Turtle roam range is slightly different between genders. Males have a home range area of around 2.77 acres and will travel up to 1.1 miles. Females have a home range of 14.20 acres and will travel up to 0.93 miles.


Much like most turtle species, issues with the shell are extremely common in Yellow-blotched Map Turtles.

Yellow-blotched Map Turtles can suffer from a mild fungal infection if they do not receive enough natural sunlight and sufficient UVB lighting. The turtle will experience white or gray patches that spread throughout the shell.

This is most commonly an issue for captive Yellow-blotched Map Turtles and if left untreated, can result in ulceration.

In the wild Yellow-blotched Map Turtles, they mainly face intestinal parasites and polluted waters infecting their food supply.

Yellow-blotched Map Turtles will require lots of vitamins and calcium to keep their shell strong and energy levels up, too.

Captive Yellow-blotched Map Turtles are also prone to metabolic bone disease due to improper conditions. If your turtle is fed too much protein they are also prone to pyramiding of the scutes.

Eye Color

The eye color of Yellow-blotched Map Turtles is a light green/ yellow color with a wide black horizontal stripe through the middle.

Can they swim?

Yellow-blotched Map Turtles are great swimmers and are very comfortable in deep waters. Even from a young age they like the deep water as it provides better security for them.

If you are caring for a captive Yellow-blotched Map Turtle their water should be clean and filtered at all times and there should be plenty of vegetation available to them.


As this species is incredibly rare and endangered, taking caring of one in captivity can be incredibly rewarding.

These turtles can either be kept in groups of the same species or in groups with similar turtles. They can also be kept in outdoor ponds.

If you intend to keep a single Yellow-blotched Map Turtle, they will need an aquatic set up with some form of filtration and current system in place, as hey enjoy fast-moving waters.

For a single turtle, the ideal tank size is at least 50 gallons, and if there were two turtles, you would need an extra 30-50 gallons for there to be enough space for them to live comfortably. If you’re keeping females this setup would have to be even bigger again.

As these turtles also like to bask, you will also have to provide them with a good basking spot. To do this, you could include a small area of the tank that is land and provide a ramp up to it. They will only require a rock or a log to bask on. The basking spot needs to be around 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

They also need a water temperature of around 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so the tank would require a thermometer to be installed to monitor this.

In order to keep their shells healthy, they will also require a UVB light, so they can get enough vitamin D3 and other nutrients that they would normally get naturally from the sun.

You should avoid handling your Yellow-blotched Map Turtle as much as possible, as they are cautious creatures and, as you will notice, tend to hide a lot of the time and will be frightened easily.


These turtles are extremely rare so are bred in relatively small batches. Due to their rareness, purchasing one would be pretty expensive.

Owning a Yellow-blotched Map Turtle is also not allowed in some areas of the U.S.

If you were to purchase a Yellow-blotched Map Turtle. It would cost you around $400 for hatchlings and around $800 for an adult turtle.

Just make sure the turtle you buy is a captive bred species and not just a regular Yellow-blotched Map Turtle that has been captured in the wild.

Fun Facts

Yellow-blotched Map Turtles are often referred to by their nickname: ‘Yellow-blotched Sawback Turtle’.

They earned this nickname due to the serrated ridges along the spine of their shells.