The Cagle’s Map Turtle from Southeastern Texas in the United States is one of the prettiest of the map turtles!

The attractive Cagle’s Map Turtle has intricate swirling ‘map’ type markings that distinguish the Map Turtles. Cagle’s turtle is one of the smallest of this group of turtles. A female will only reach about 7″ with the males being even smaller, reaching about 4 1/2″. It is also a very pretty green color, so is sometimes nicknamed the ‘Green’ Map Turtle. These turtles are very shy and alert, plopping into the water at the approach of their keeper. However they will soon become tame, and though they will still dive off into the water they will quickly re-surface to see if any food has been offered.

As they are fairly easy to take care of, Cagle’s Map Turtles are good for beginners. They are avid baskers and active swimmers. Even though they are a little shy they make good companions in a community habitat. They can be kept with other map turtles as well as other baskers such as sliders, cooters, and painted turtles as long as there is plenty of space and lots of decor. Larger females can be aggressive to subordinate males and to any smaller turtles housed with them. Therefore it is important to add plenty of decorations, add an extra basking spot or two to their environment, and avoid crowding.

Scientific Classification

Species: caglei


   The Cagle’s Map Turtle Graptemys caglei was described by Haynes and McKown in 1974. They are found from the Guadalupe and San Antonio Rivers in south central Texas. They are becoming quite rare in the wild, but luckily they reproduce well in captivity.

There are a twelve species, and several subspecies, of map turtles in the Graptemys genus. They are found in the central and eastern United States and into southern Canada, generally in clear fast-flowing rivers and nearby ponds and lakes. The greatest concentration of these turtles are in the river systems of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida.

  • Barbour’s Map Turtle Graptemys barbouri
  • Cagle’s Map Turtle Graptemys caglei
  • Escambia Map Turtle Graptemys ernsti
  • Yellow-blotched Map Turtle Graptemys flavimaculata
  • Northern Map Turtle Graptemys geographica
  • Pascagoula Map Turtle/ Pearl River Map Turtle Graptemys gibbonsi
  • Black-knobbed Map Turtle Graptemys nigrinoda
    Southern Black-knobbed Map Turtle/ Delta Map Turtle Graptemys nigrinoda delticola
    Northern Black-knobbed Map Turtle Graptemys nigrinoda nigrinoda
  • Ringed Map Turtle Graptemys oculifera
  • Ouachita Map Turtle Graptemys ouachitensis
    Sabine Map Turtle Graptemys ouachitensis sabinensis
  • False Map Turtle Graptemys pseudogeographica
    Mississippi Map Turtle Graptemys pseudogeographica kohnii
  • Alabama Map Turtle Graptemys pulchra
  • Texas Map Turtle Graptemys versa


   The Cagle’s Map Turtle is an officially endangered species in the United States: U.S. Endangered Species Act, May 4, 2004. They are also listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: VU – vulnerable, with a proposed listing on CITES: Appendix III.


   An ornately patterned species, the Cagle’s Map Turtle is a beautiful green with intricate swirling ‘map’ type markings. Adult map turtles have muscular heads but they have two distinct appearances, those that are ‘broad-headed’ (primarily for cracking mussels and snail shells), and those that are ‘narrow-headed’ designed more for eating insects. The Cagle’s is one of those with a narrower head. Though it is not one of the ‘sawback’ group, those with a serrated appearance, it does have real high vertebral scutes.

As with many of the map turtle species, there is extreme sexual dimorphism in Cagle’s Map Turtles. Females can reach up to 7″ (17.8 cm) with males being considerably smaller, reaching about 4 1/2″ (11.4 cm).

Care and Feeding

   Map turtles are omnivores. In captivity, the majority of their captive diet consists of floating aquatic turtle food, a variety of aquatic plants and greens, and some protein. Freeze-dried shrimp and krill are a great treat for map turtles.

Interestingly, hatchlings and the young of several species of map turtles feed on more plant matter than adults. Physically, adults develop large, muscular jaws in response to a natural diet of hard-shelled snails and crayfish. They also eat a wide variety of aquatic insects. In fact, in some species the small males never leave this existence of feeding on aquatic insects in the shallows at the river’s edge.

Care must be taken that these, and any turtles, are not released into a wild habitat. The reasons are many. The introduction of non-native species can lead to the introduction of diseases and can lead to hybridization of introduced and native species. In addition, many turtles raised in captivity and released into wild situations are confused, unable to cope with extreme weather changes, and many surely fall prey quite quickly to predators they may encounter.


Though similar in appearance to sliders and painted turtles, map turtles have some unique and specific needs. Map turtles are generally found in clear, fast-flowing rivers and so require plenty of filtration and oxygenated water in their captive enclosures. A large flow-through filtration system will work well for map turtles. You can also add a “spray bar” to the filtration system to add some turbulence and oxygen to the water.


Indoors, a basic setup in a large tub (48″w x 84″l x 20″deep) will be sufficient to keep and breed an adult trio of map turtles. Add an efficient filtration system, a shop light fixture with UVB-emitting bulbs overhead, and a warm basking spot. Map turtles spend a great deal of time exploring intricate underwater structures such as tree limbs, partially submerged stumps, and piles of rock. They climb around on these structures to search for a good basking spot, to find a bit of food, and to stay out of each other’s way. Add bunches of submerged and floating plants. Within a few days these plants are usually picked apart, so move the leftovers outside to regrow and add a fresh batch of aquatic plants to the tub.
   Large female map turtles are often aggressive to the subordinate males and to any smaller turtles housed with them. Therefore, it is important to add plenty of decorations and an extra basking spot or two to their environment, and to avoid crowding.


Map turtles thrive in outdoor ponds. They are avid baskers so at least one large basking spot should be available. They will hibernate and care must be taken to formulate a plan for a moderately cool hibernation area. Most southern species will need to be brought inside as winter approaches (below 45{deg} to 50{deg} F). They should, however, be kept cool during the winter in an effort to inspire courtship and breeding behavior once they are returned to a warm outdoor enclosure in the spring.
   In outdoor enclosures, it is best to not crowd your map turtles. The addition of lots of aquatic plants, especially floating varieties (water lettuce, water hyacinth, and duckweed) to help keep the outdoor map turtle pond healthy and keeps the oxygen level high.


   Captive-hatched specimens, as always, are the best to keep as pets and most will become so docile that they can easily be fed by hand. These and all aquatic turtles should be considered wonderful display animals and not pets that are easily held.


   Warm, sunny days (outside) and increased warmth and water spray (indoors) provide for the onset of courtship and breeding in most map turtles. Most species lay well indoors when offered a laying area of damp sand and peat moss. With this type of environment, the females will search out the proper laying area rather than dropping eggs in the water. Hatching is straightforward. 75-80 days at 82{deg} F (28{deg} C) and 80-85% humidity should produce an average hatching success rate of 90% and higher.
   Map turtles are good layers in outdoor enclosures provided they have easy access to a proper laying area. Once this laying area has been discovered and “tested”, the females will rarely lay elsewhere.

Ailments / Health Problems

   Map turtles are often afflicted with shell problems in captivity. If not offered natural sunlight and indoor UVB, they will often develop a mild form of fungal infection. It is usually not complicated with ulceration, but appears as white or gray patches that will spread over most of the carapace if left untreated. Acriflavine, Betadine® scrubs, and drying out in direct sunlight have proven to be effective in preventing the spread of this fungus.


   The Cagle’s Map Turtle is still not bred in captivity in large numbers but they are occasionally available from sources such as better pet stores, breeders at the larger reptile shows across the country, and on-line. Try to find specimens that are captive-hatched and at least six to eight months old to ensure the turtle has been feeding well and is well on its way to a strong start. 

The rarer map turtle species are also being produced but in small numbers. These are typically traded among breeders searching for genetic bloodlines for their programs. It is only a matter of time before more species are commonly available from turtle breeders.

Featured Image Credit: Cagle’s map turtle (Graptemys caglei) hatching (Image Credit: Mokele, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)