Texas, Smith County, Sabine River
Photograph by Sheri A. Sanders
IDENTIFICATION: A medium sized turtle with adult males reaching 5.75 inches (14.6 cm) and adult females 10.75 inches (27.3 cm) in carapace length. The head is small with a yellow to reddish orange dot, oval or round blotch shaped marking behind each eye. 5-9 yellow stripes extend alongside the neck reaching orbit and oval; Brown carapace with posterior serrations. The plastron creamy yellow with dark seams and notched at the rear. Some populations may demonstrate a difference in coloration with red replacing some of the yellow (Sanders et al., 2010). Juveniles have a serrated keel with black tips that become smoother with age. Males have claws on the front feet that are longer than those of the female as well as a tail that is proportionately longer and wider than hers. Mature males have a cloaca opening that reaches beyond the posterior margin of the carapace while females do not.
DISTRIBUTION: Bodies of water affiliated with Sabine and Neches rivers in the eastern fifth of the state.
BEHAVIOR AND ECOLOGY: This species is gregarious and can be found soaking up sunshine while alongside other basking turtles. Its diet is comprised of various aquatic invertebrates mostly insects and mollusks.
SABINE MAP TURTLE (Graptemys sabinensis), (CAGLE, 1953)
Images from CT scan of male Graptemys sabinensis skull