Yellow-blotched map turtle
This small (to 17.5 cm), narrow-headed turtle has laterally compressed, black, spinelike vertebral projections and a slightly serrated posterior carapacial margin. Its vertebrals are broader than long; the 1st is smallest. The carapace is olive to brown; each pleural has a broad ring or yellow blotch covering most of its surface, and each marginal contains a wide yellow bar or semicircle. The plastron is light cream colored, with a black pattern extending along the seams; this pattern fades with age. The hindlobe is posteriorly notched, and the plastral formula is: an > abd > fem >< pect > gul > hum. The head is small to moderate with a nonprojecting snout and neither a hook nor notch on the upper jaw. It is olive with yellow stripes. The postorbital mark usually is rectangular, and joins a longitudinal dorsal neck stripe that is at least twice as wide as the next widest neck stripe. Two to four neck stripes reach the orbit; the interorbital stripe is narrower than the neck stripes. The lower jaw is marked with longitudinal yellow stripes, which are wider than the olive-green interstices; thus yellow predominates. There are about 19 longitudinal yellow stripes on the olive neck; those on the ventral surface are twice as wide as those dorsal. Other skin is olive with yellow stripes.
The diploid chromosome number is 50: 26 macrochromosomes and 24 microchromosomes (Killebrew, 1977a).
Adult males have long, thick tails, with the vent posterior to the carapacial rim, and elongated foreclaws. Adult females have broader heads and are larger (10-16 cm) than males (7.5-11.0 cm).
Graptemys flavimaculata is restricted to the Pascagoula River system in Mississippi.
Sand- and clay-bottomed streams with moderate to rapid currents form the habitat. Piles of brush and debris serve as basking sites, and tangled roots are used as shelters.
According to Cagle (1954a), females are mature at a plastron length of 13.3 cm and males at 6.7 cm. During courtship the male approaches the female with his neck extended. She faces him and extends her neck. He then stretches out his forelimbs and strokes the sides of her head with his claws; she simultaneously attempts to stroke him (Wahlquist, 1970). This behavior is quite similar to that of Chrysemys picta and Graptemys pseudogeographica.
Almost nothing is known of the behavior of the yellow-blotched sawback. Like other map turtles it is a confirmed basker and extremely difficult to approach. It seldom ventures overland.
The diet consists largely of snails and insects; captives will eat fish.
IUCN Red List Status (1996)
Endangered (B1+2c). G. flavimaculata is apparently the dominant turtle species in the Pascagoula River system, but is still endangered by pollution and collection for the pet trade. Hundreds of these turtles are killed each year during target practice by so-called "sportsmen" (McCoy and Vogt, 1980). The yellow-blotched sawback is now protected by the state of Mississippi.