False Map Turtle
Description: False Map Turtles are medium-sized turtles with adult carapace lengths reaching 4.5 to 10.5 inches in females and 3.5 to 5.5 inches in males. The second, third, and fourth vertebral keels along their carapace have black tipped, blunt projections, which stick out farther than the Common Map Turtles (pictured above). The posterior edge of the carapace is also serrated. The plastron is light yellow with margins having a swirled pattern that resembles a road map. The head, legs, and tail are olive with distinct yellow lines. Behind each eye is a yellow blotch, but unlike the other two species of map turtles in the area (i.e. the Common Map and the Ouachita Map), it is crescent shaped and NOT isolated.
Habitat/Ecology: False Map Turtles prefer large rivers and their sloughs. They are said to require soft bottoms, ample aquatic vegetation and many basking sites that are away from shore. False Map Turtles are said to eat larger quantities of aquatic vegetation than the other two map turtles in La Crosse. However, they are also reported to eat insects, mollusks and fish. Nesting females are usually encountered during late May, as well as June and early July.
Remarks: The Mississippi River is the perfect habitat for False Map Turtles and I have witnessed them on several occasions. However, I have not seen them as frequently as the other two species of map turtles. Like all map turtles, they are shy and avoid humans, so they are only likely to be encountered during egg-laying. In mid-August (2001), I found the empty shells of two False Map Turtles near the river on French Island. I have also encountered them near Green Island and I'm sure they exist in other areas around La Crosse as well.