They have powerful jaws that they use to crush their prey, like crayfish, clams, zebra mussels and snails. They also eat some insects, aquatic plants and fish . This turtle species lives in large rivers and lakes, and individuals from a wide area will often congregate at favoured sites to bask together. They also congregate in favourable locations to hibernate.
Females require 10 years to reach maturity. Breeding occurs in late fall or early spring and females dig nests from May to July. One clutch of up to 17 eggs is laid within 100 m of the shoreline and hatching occurs 60-75 days after eggs are laid. The temperature of the egg within the nest determines the gender of a hatchling.
Populations of map turtles are affected by habitat loss due to shoreline development, by the pet trade and by the introduction of heavy metals and zebra mussels to our waterways. The zebra mussels have replaced much of this turtle’s diet and are low in nutritional value. Predators include foxes, raccoons and otters, ring-billed gulls, crows, mink, coyote, grackles and red-winged blackbirds. In rare cases, grackles have been seen removing the leeches from adult turtles.
| · Females are much larger than males
· It is illegal to hunt, catch, possess, sell or harass these turtles in the wild
· They are a very shy turtle and will drop into the water at any sign of disturbance
· The scientific name "geographica" and the common name "map" turtle refer to the markings on the carapace. Each scute exhibits a swirling array of thin, coloured lines that resemble a topographical map or waterways on a chart.
· This turtle is considered to be a species of special concern by the government