How Big Do Map Turtles Get?

how big do map turtles get

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Map turtle is one of the most specialized groups of turtles in Northern America. This species is unique because of its size, body structure, and attractive look. So, turtle owners are getting more into this particular species. Before purchasing a map turtle, you have to learn all the necessary information about the species, like size, habitat, etc. So how big do map turtles get?

Generally, the female map turtles have significant growth, which is up to 12 inches, and the male map turtles reach only half the size of this, which is 6 inches. The growth rate of a map turtle depends on its species, native area, diet, and genetics.

If you are planning to get a map turtle, then welcome to the club. And do not worry if you do not have the primary knowledge about the species. In this article, I will help you to learn about the size of different species of a map turtle, its growth rate, and what affects the growth rate. So do not forget to read the full article.

Size of Different Map Turtle Species

Species of map turtleSize of the species – FemaleSize of the species- Male
False Map Turtle10.5 inches (27 centimeters)6 inches (16 centimeters)
Cagle’s Map Turtle  5.5 to 8 inches (14 to 21 centimeters)3.5 to 5 inches (9 to 12.7 centimeters)
Black Knobbed Map Turtle  4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters)3 to 4 inches 6.7 to 10 centimeters
Ringed Map Turtle  7 inches (17 centimeters)4 inches (10 centimeters)
Yellow Blotched Map Turtle  5 to 7.5 inches (13 to 19 centimeters)3.5 to 4.5 inches (9 to 11 centimeters)
Alabama Map Turtles  5.5 to 11.5 inches (14 to 30 centimeters)3.5 to 5 inches (9 to 12.7 centimeters)
Texas Map Turtle5 to 8 inches (12.7 to 20 centimeters)2.5 to 4 inches (6.5 to 10 centimeters)
Barbour’s Map Turtle  12.5 inches (31.7 centimeters)5.5 inches (14 centimeters)
Escambia map turtle  11 inches (30 centimeters)5 inches (12.5 centimeters)
Pascagoula Map Turtle  3.5 to 5 inches (9 to 12.7 centimeters)5.5 to 11.5 inches (14 to 30 centimeters)
Northern Map turtle  7.1 to 10.6 inches (18 to 27 centimeters)3.9 to 6.3 inches (10 to 16 centimeters)
Ouachita Map Turtle  10 inches (25 centimeters)5 inches (12 centimeters)
Sabine Map Turtle  5 to 10.75 inches (12.7 to 27.5 centimeters)3.5 to 5.75 inches (9 to 14.5 centimeters)
Mississippi Map Turtle6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 centimeters)3.5 to 5 inches (9 to 13 centimeters)

Growth Factors Of A Map Turtle

The chart I have given above represents the sizes that any species of map turtle will attain at its adult age. Sometimes many map turtles do not grow at their full length. It is because some growth factors are responsible for your pet map turtle’s growth. There are many growth factors, but I will discuss the major ones.

  1. Genetics
  2. Nutrition
  3. Activity period
  4. Habitat


We know different species of map turtle owns diverse size range. The range or growth can vary slightly from the ideal one because of the particular map turtle’s heredity. The map turtle can be larger or shorter than its standard size if its parent map turtles are bigger or smaller than the usual.


Now, this is an essential factor in a map turtle’s growth. It has been considered that if your map turtle is not getting sufficient food or being overfed, it will affect its body length. In other words, your map turtles may grow faster or slower, larger or shorter than the usual because of diet.

So what are the ideal food items for a map turtle? The food genre can vary from species to species, but all the 14 species of the map turtle is omnivorous, which means they prefer both meat and plants. 

I am adding a list of food that you can add to your map turtle’s diet.

  • Shrimp
  • Crayfish
  • Small crabs
  • Snails, clams
  • Carrion
  • Dead fish
  • Insect larvae
  • Blackworms
  • Bloodworms
  • Feeder fish
  • Crayfish
  • Crickets
  • Earthworms
  • Dark and leafy vegetables
  • Parsley
  • Dandelion greens
  • Romaine.

Providing a proper diet to the map turtle will be beneficial for its natural growth.

Activity Period

By activity period, we will understand two significant facts.

  1. Recreational period
  2. Dormancy period

Recreational activities can help a map turtle to maintain its ideal growth rate or size. It is because these activities help the map turtle to stay mentally strong and healthy. 

The dormancy period is the specific cycle of a map turtle’s life. Like all other reptiles, map turtles are cold-blooded too. It means they depend on the external heating source to generate or regulate their body temperature. So in the cold season, the map turtles wedge themselves under the bottom of a lake or a log and go through the dormant process for a few months. They do it to regulate their body temperature in the chilly weather.

These two periods affect the growth rate of the map turtles.


Almost every map turtle species tend to live in the water as it is an aquatic species. In the wild, you will find map turtles in lakes, ponds, or swamps. The place can vary from species to species, but all of them prefer significant water places with places to hide in. Besides, they need a place to bask in the sun.

In captivity, you have to replicate the same environment. The map turtles must have enough space for swimming and exercising. And also, you have to provide an external source of heat and UV rays. These elements help a map turtle to grow in its full length.

So if the turtle owner fails to provide all the basic needs for the map turtle’s habitat, it will affect the pet’s size.

Pet Turtle Lifespan & Size Chart

pet turtle lifespan and size

If you want to get a printable version of this amazing chart, click here!

How Fast Does A Map Turtle Grow?

There is no standard growth rate for a map turtle. Generally, the juvenile map turtles have faster growth, and the rate slows down with the turtle’s age. It has been seen that the growth rate increases after the first hibernation of the map turtle.

Here I am adding a graph of the growth rate of a map turtle hatchling. The data were collected from AnimalDiversity.

Map Turtle Growth Rate Chart
Map Turtle Growth Rate Chart

Here you can observe the growth of a map turtle hatchling with its age. A study shows that a male map turtle would take 4 to 6 years to reach its full length, and a female map turtle would take more than ten years to attain the length if they are provided healthy food and environment.

How To Know If Your Map Turtle Is Growing Or Not?

Obviously, the easiest method is to measure the size of the map turtle from time to time. But it can be tiring for many turtle owners. There is a visible sign that indicates that your map turtle is growing. It is called scute shedding.

The shell of a map turtle is covered with a thin epithelium layer. It produces the hard outer shell or scutes of the map turtle. The turtles shed the layer and grow a new one when they grow.

So if you observe that your map turtle is shedding the thin outer layer, it indicates that the turtle is growing.

What to do if your map turtle is not growing?

Some map turtle owners often get worried that their map turtles are not growing according to the ideal chart. So is this a fact to be anxious?

If you think logically, you can understand that this may be a genetic issue. If you are providing healthy habitat, balanced diet, and proper care to the map turtle, then there is nothing to worry about.

Some map turtles do not grow to its full length because of genetic issues. Moreover, sometimes the map turtles show a slow growth rate. Do not get anxious and provide the best care to the turtle.

You can take the map turtle to a vet for a proper checkup to make sure that the pet is healthy. The slow growth rate can happen because of some medical issues too. So I suggest you for consulting a vet if you notice any abnormality in the growth rate.

Factors that hamper the healthy growth of a map turtle

I have discussed the growth factor in the previous section. Lacking any of those can hamper the ideal length of a map turtle. Here are the primary three reasons that can hinder a map turtle’s growth.

  1. Diet
  2. Environment
  3. Disease

I have discussed how unhealthy and improper diet and environment can affect the growth of a map turtle. Well, the disease is another significant factor. If you map turtle falls sick, it may not gain its full length at a particular age. 

Tips to ensure a healthy growth rate for the map turtles

  1. Provide a healthy habitat to the map turtles.
  2. Follow the hygiene codes to raise the map turtles inside an indoor or outdoor habitat.
  3. Set up the high-quality filter, heating light, and UV light for the map turtles.
  4. Provide a balanced and healthy diet to the map turtles.
  5. If you observe any abnormality in the map turtle’s behavior, take it to the vet immediately.
  6. Give the map turtle proper care and treatment if it falls sick.

Can you determine the gender of a map turtle by its size?

Unlike other species, map turtles show a significant sex dimorphism between the male and female turtles. By observing the size chart, you must have realized that the male map turtles are half the size of the female map turtles. It is evident for all the map turtle species.

So if you know the species, you can determine the gender of the map turtle just by measuring its size.

How to measure the size of a map turtle?

Well, this is a necessary thing many newcomers do not know. How will you measure the length of the map turtle? Will you measure its bottom shell or upper shell? Does the range include its head or not?

So, here is the deal. To measure the length of a map turtle, you will only need a measuring tape. Generally, the length of the turtle means the length of its plastron. The plastron is the lower shell of the map turtle.


So, I have discussed everything you need to know regarding the size of a map turtle. If you are confused about any part, let me know. I hope you have found the article helpful.

About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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