Yellow-blotched Map Turtle (Cagle, 1954)
Graptemys flavimaculata

*previously known as the Yellow-blotched Sawback prior to 2001. Please refer to the Feb 2001 SSAR, HL, ASIH Guide to Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America. There were no revisions to Graptemys in the 2003 update and a new update will be coming out in summer 2007.

Range: Mississippi - The Yellow-Blotched Map Turtle (Cagle, 1954) is found in the Pascagoula River (the singing river) and most of its tributaries.  The Pascagoula River is not a very large river as compared to the Alabama River and the Pearl River. 

Description: This is a small to medium size turtle. Males are about 3.5 to 4.5 inches as adults and females are about 5 to 7.5 inches long.  This turtle is part of the narrow head group of map turtles and therefore is mostly an insect eater, but they are also opportunistic so crustaceans and fish could also be eaten.  It has the typical map turtle central keel that is exaggerated as a hatchling and slowly wears down with age, especially old females. However, of all the map turtle species, this group (the sawback group, G. nigrinoda, G. oculifera and G. flavimaculata) has the highest central keel.  This turtles differs from G. nigrinoda (Black-knobbed Map Turtle) and G. oculifera (Ringed Map Turtle) in having  a yellow spot, blotch or line in each of the carapacial pleural scutes. It also has a small plastral pattern that consists of a few horizontal lines.  

Habitat:  Like the other sawbacks,  G. flavimaculata inhabits a sandy/mud bottomed river.  It is associated with brush piles (trees that have died and fell into the river).  It spends much of the day basking on these fallen trees and quickly jumps into the water when approached.  They seek refuge on the bottom of the river and in between the branches of the falling trees.  I have found that females prefer to bask further off shore and on tree stumps, in general.   

Legal Status  Endangered in Mississippi,  Federally Threatened

Other Information: In the sections of the Pascagoula where I have looked for G. flavimaculata, it was not uncommon.  Both  G. flavimaculata and G. gibbonsi appear to be equally common. This is another example of a broad-head species and a narrow -head species living sympatrically.  Other species that are found in the same places as this species are Graptemys gibbonsi (Pascagoula Map), Pseudemys concinna (River Cooters),  Trachemys scripta elegans (Red Eared Slider),  Sternotherus minor minor x peltifer (Loggerhead x Stripeneck Musk), Sternotherus carinatus (Razor-back Musk), Macrochelys temminckii (Alligator Snapping Turtles, not Loggerheads as named by the locals), and Apalone spinifera aspera, (Gulf Coast Spiny Softshell). G. flavimaculata is part of the narrow head group.   G. gibbonsi, a broad head species, can be found along side G. flavimaculata. I have found that in a five mile section of river, G. gibbonsi or G. n. flavimaculata can be the dominate basking turtle in a certain area.  While going up river in this five mile section, the most dominate Graptemys species changed several times. 

Previous Taxonomy: Graptemys oculifera flavimaculata Cagle, 1954

A female Graptemys flavimaculata basks in the warm sun on the Pascagoula River