13 Map Turtle Species You Can Keep As Pets

Map Turtle Species You Can Keep As Pets

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

Are you planning to buy a new pet map turtle but you have no idea which species is better? Then this article can be a real help for you. We all know that the map turtle has various species, and not all of them are ideal as pets. So, pet keepers often find it challenging to select the perfect species for them.

Map turtles have more than 14 natural species. Among them, 13 map turtle species are good as pets. Mississippi map turtle and Texas map turtle are the two most popular map turtle species.

In this article, I will talk about the 13 map turtle species that are ideal as pets. I will also discuss their specifics and which one will be better for you. So, read until the end of the article to get a solid idea. 

Which Map Turtle Species Are Ideal As Pets?

You can pet almost all map turtle species. But some species are difficult to handle and can not cope up with the captive environment smoothly. So, it is better if we let those species stay in the wild environment. 

On the other hand, some map turtle species show all the characteristics of an ideal pet. I have researched a lot on this topic and concluded 13 map turtle species that are more compatible as pets. I am listing them below.

Map Turtle Species That You Can Keep As Pets:

  • Mississippi map turtle
  • Texas map turtle
  • False map turtle
  • Ouachita map turtle
  • Northern map turtle
  • Barbour’s map turtle
  • Black Knobbed map turtle
  • Cagle’s map turtle
  • Alabama map turtle
  • Pearl River map turtle
  • Sabine map turtle
  • Yellow Blotched map turtle
  • Pascagoula map turtle

13 Map Turtles That Are Good As Pets

In this section, I will discuss the different characteristics of each species. You will get an overall idea from the analysis, and maybe you can decide which one species will be right for you. 

Mississippi Map Turtle

how big do map turtles get

Mississippi map turtle is the most popular map turtle species. Turtle keepers want this species because of their aquatic nature and attractive body appearance. 

Mississippi map turtles own some characteristics that make them ideal as pets. The first thing is its price. You can get a Mississippi map turtle around 15 dollars in a legal market. Again, this species is common in the USA, and you may find them swimming in the rivers or lakes. 

Mississippi map turtles are excellent swimmers. They can swim in both swift and stagnant water. And that is why you will need to build a larger space if you want to adopt them. 

Another best thing about them is their size. The male Mississippi map turtles grow 3.5 to 5 inches, and the female ones grow about 6 to 12 inches. So, their compact sizes give the owner advantage while handling. 

As the species love swimming, you have to raise them with a larger tank. A 25-gallon aquarium tank is good for the small male Mississippi map turtles, and for the female ones, you have to provide a 75-gallon aquarium enclosure.

And as for diet, feeding a Mississippi map turtle can be a little tricky. They love the low-fat protein. You can feed them mealworms, dead fish, insects, snails as the protein source and lettuce, parsley, spinach as the source of mineral and vitamins. 

Mississippi map turtles have won the hearts of thousands of turtle keepers with its compatible size, eye-catching appearances, and decent lifestyle. The species have a lifespan of 30 to 35 years, which makes it better than most other map turtle species. 

Texas Map Turtle

Texas Map Turtle

Texas map turtle is one of the most popular pet turtle species. From its name, you can guess its native place, which is Texas. The species is the smallest among all other map turtles. 

The male Texas map turtles are about 2.5 to 4 inches, and the female ones are about 5 to 8 inches. For its compact size, both the gender does not need a large tank. One to two adult male Texas map turtles can live in a 30-gallon tank. On the other hand, a female Texas map turtle needs a 50-gallon enclosure to live a healthy life. 

Texas map turtles are not very expensive. The average market rate of a Texas map turtle is around 30 dollars. Again, the species is low maintenance. You do not need to feed them fancy food items.

The species is more carnivorous and prefers eating snail, crayfish, earthworm, etc. You can add green leafy vegetables like kale, endives as a source of mineral and vitamin. 

The average lifespan of a Texas map turtle is 30 to 40 years, which is preferable for most turtle keepers. Again, the species is easy to handle and breed. That is why most professionals recommend this species to the beginners.

False Map Turtle

false map turtle

False map turtle is one of the decent turtle species, which do not bite. Their carapace is brown and covered in dark blotches. You will found yellow stripes running all over the body. 

False map turtles can be found in different sizes. Generally, the males grow to 3.5 to 6 inches, and female ones grow to 4.5 to 10.5 inches. This species has a lot of similarities to the Mississippi map turtles. 

The adult female False map turtles need a 75-gallon tank, and an adult male one needs a 25-gallon enclosure. They prefer living in slow current water and temperate climate.

Feeding a False map turtle is not difficult because it is omnivorous. The pet is okay with both live guppies, chopped fishes, and commercial foods. To fulfill its body need, you also have to add vegetables to the diet list.

False map turtles are the cheapest among all the map turtle species. Their average market price is 6 to 50 dollars. 

They can live up to 50 years with great care and attention. The cheap rate, low-maintenance, and an average lifespan made this species perfect as a pet.

Ouachita Map Turtle 

Ouachita map turtle is challenging to distinguish from other map turtle species. The species has unique body appearances, and they are available mostly in the United States. 

Ouachita map turtles are medium in size. The male Ouachita map turtles can grow up to 5 inches, and the female ones can grow up to 10 inches. 

As they are bigger than many other species, they need a large enclosure to swim and roam around. A male Ouachita map turtle requires a 40 to 50 gallon tank, and a female one needs a 90 to 100-gallon tank as an enclosure.

The species prefer fast-moving water with vegetation in the enclosure. So you may have to set up additional equipment to fulfill its needs. Again, the substrate of the habitat must consist of socks and sands. 

Ouachita map turtles are omnivorous and eat almost everything. They can eat commercial foods as well as insects, mealworms, krill, etc. They also prefer eating Zucchini, kale, mustard green, etc.

The pet can live up to 30 to 50 years, depending on the care and attention. This pet is common and costs less than 100 dollars. Though the species is easy to maintain, this is one of the less popular map turtle species. Ouachita map turtle has all the potential to be an ideal pet for you. 

Northern Map Turtle

Northern Map Turtle

The native place of the Northern map turtles is in North America. This species is also known as the common map turtle. As they are available in most states of America, the species is easy to breed and keep as a pet.

You have to spend around 30 to 300 dollars to get a Northern map turtle. The price can go up depending on the size and age. The species has a medium length comparing to other map turtle species. 

The male Northern map turtles can grow up to 3.9 to 6.3 inches and most of the female Northern map turtles are about 7.1 to 10.6 inches. Because of their size, the owner needs a large enclosure for them.

The adult male Northern map turtle needs a 75-gallon tank, and the female one requires a 125-gallon tank as an enclosure. As the species is big, the larger space, the better it will be for the pets. It will be best if you do not put delicate fish in the same tank with a Northern map turtle because the turtle may end up killing it. 

A Northern map turtle is carnivorous and prefers protein enriched food items. The commercial food items will be better for this species. And as an additional, you can also add crayfish, cricket, krill, lettuce, lilies to its diet chart. 

The average lifespan of a Northern map turtle is 5.5 years. But with great care, the species can live up to 20 years. The species is quite popular among the beginner turtle keepers, and its characteristics make it an excellent pet. Still, many turtle owners avoid the species because the Northern map turtles are very sensitive and often struggle to cope up with the captive environment.

Barbour’s Map Turtle

Barbour’s map turtles are eye-catching and very attractive to look at. You can find this species on the southeast side of the United States.

Barbour’s map turtles are bigger than most other species. The size of an adult male Barbour’s map turtle is around 5.5 inches, and the size of an adult female one is about 12.5 inches. The species is good at swimming and prefer spending more time inside the water.

The enclosure of a Barbour’s map turtle should be able to contain 75 to 120 gallons of water. The enclosure size depends on the pet’s size. But you have to make sure the pet is getting enough space for swimming. As the species loves to stay inside the water, you have to be careful about the water temperature.

The Barbour’s map turtles are carnivorous and prefer eating animal-based foods. You can feed them snail, prawn, minnows, etc. They are also okay with the commercial food items. 

Depending on the care and environment, the Barbour’s map turtles can live up to 20 years. Raising a Barbour’s map turtle can be challenging for the beginners. Though it is difficult to handle, the species can be the right pet for you.

Black Knobbed Map Turtle

Black Knobbed Map Turtle

Black Knobbed map turtles are also known as Black Knobbed Sawback turtle. The natural area of the turtles is in the southeast part of North America. The species can be found from small to medium size. 

The size of the male black knobbed map turtles is between 3 to 4 inches, and the female map turtles can grow up to 4 to 8 inches. As they are not so big, a medium-size enclosure is perfect for them. 

An adult male black knobbed map turtle feels comfortable in a 25-gallon tank, and for an adult female one, a 75 gallon tank is the right choice. The species can not live in muddy water. So, you have to set up high-quality filtration to make sure that the water is clean and hygienic for the pet.

Like most other map turtle species, black knobbed map turtles are carnivorous. Though they love protein-based foods, they also eat green leafy vegetables. The commercial food items are a better choice as those items ensure a balanced diet for the pet. 

The black knobbed map turtles have an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years, and it costs around 200 dollars. This species can be an excellent pet as they need a small space and are compatible with all foods. The beginners can start their journey with this pet.

Cagle’s Map Turtle

Cagle’s Map Turtle

Cagle’s map turtle has some unique looks. It is the only map turtle species that is green in color. You can find the species only in Texas, and the species is illegal to put up for sale or to take from the wild. You have to buy it from private breeders. 

Cagle’s map turtles are tiny in size. The male ones are around 3.5 to 5 inches, and the female ones are about 5.5 to 8 inches in size. Because of their size, a 40-gallon tank can be a considerable enclosure for the male Cagle’s map turtles. And for the female ones, you have to provide a 55-gallon water tank. 

The species requires maximum care and attention. To its diet list, you have to include both protein and vegetables. Snail, minnows, and leafy greens are some of the common foods of the Cagle’s map turtle. 

The species is quite expensive, which will cost you around 300 dollars. The lifespan of the pet is almost 15 years. I discourage you from adopting the species as a pet because it is rare and endangered. 

Alabama Map Turtle

Alabama Map Turtle

Alabama map turtles are one of the most common and popular map turtle species. The species can be found in the Alabama area and rare in Georgia. 

The species can be of small to medium size. The male Alabama map turtles can grow between 3.5 to 5 inches, and the size of the female Alabama map turtles are around 5.5 to 11.5 inches. 

Considering the size and weight of the Alabama map turtles, a 40-gallon tank will be perfect for the male map turtles. And for the female ones, you have to build a 90-gallon enclosure. As the turtles love swimming in the rocky waters, place some small rocks at the bottom of the tank.

The species can eat both plant and animal-based food items. But they prefer eating snails, insects, crayfish, etc. 

Alabama map turtles have a lifespan of about 15 to 20 years. The species is easy to get and handle. So it is excellent for the beginner turtle keepers. 

Pearl River Map Turtle

Due to heavy water pollution, the Pearl River map turtles are at the edge of extinct. In the wild, they are rare and not much available. You can buy one Pearl River map turtle at a high price of around 300 dollars. 

Though the species is rare and endangered, people still love them because of their friendly nature. The Pearl River map turtles need intermediate-level care. In captivity, the species can live up to 20 years. 

Sabine Map Turtle

are map turtles aggressive

Sabine map turtle is another map turtle species that can be your desired pet. In the wild, the species can be found inside the pond or river. 

The size of the species is larger than most other map turtle species. The male Sabine map turtles can grow up to 3.5 to 5.75 inches, and the female ones can have a size of 5 to 10.75 inches. 

The preferable enclosure size for the male Sabine map turtle is 40 to 55-gallon, and for the female ones, the volume will be 90 to 100-gallon. The turtles feel comfortable in a large space, so try to provide a bigger habitat.

Sabine map turtles eat both plants and protein. Commercial foods are more preferable than the natural ones if you can not decide the right amount. 

The species is not much expensive. The market value of a Sabine map turtle is from 20 to 100 dollars. The species is perfect for the beginners. 

Yellow Blotched Map Turtle

This species is popular because it is small in size and easy to handle. The best place to find a yellow blotched map turtle is in the slow-moving rivers that have sandy and rocky bottoms. 

The size of a female yellow blotched map turtle is around 5 to 7.5 inches. And a male yellow blotched map turtle can grow up to 3.5 to 4.5 inches. As they are not much big, they do not need larger enclosures. A 30 to 40 gallon tank is preferable for this species.

Yellow blotched map turtles are one of the most expensive species. The price range of a single turtle is between 400 to 1000 dollars. The price can go up depending on the size.

The species is comfortable with both natural and commercial foods. As a beginner, you can start your turtle keeping journey with a yellow blotched map turtle.

Pascagoula Map Turtle

Pascagoula Map Turtle

Pascagoula is another popular beginner map turtle species. The turtle loves living in the fast-moving rivers with sandy bottoms. 

The male Pascagoula map turtles grow up to 3.5 to 5 inches, and the female ones have a size of around 5.5 to 11.5 inches. As the male Pascagoula map turtles are small in size, 40 to 55-gallon enclosure is perfect for them. But for an adult female Pascagoula map turtle, you will need a 90 to 100-gallon tank.

Like most other map turtle species, Pascagoula map turtles love eating animal-based foods like crayfish, prawn, etc. The turtle can live up to 50 years. The species does not need extreme care, so it is suitable as a pet.

Hybrid Map Turtles

Besides these species, you can also pet some hybrid species of map turtles. Some of the species are:

  • Calico map turtle
  • Orange Mississippi map turtle
  • Orange Ouachita map turtle
  • Leucistic Mississippi map turtle


In this article, I have discussed 13 map turtle species that can be made better pets. I hope the information will help you choosing the perfect pet species even if you are a beginner. Thank you for staying until the end.

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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