Cagle’s map turtle (Graptemys caglei)

Cagle's map turtle on log
Loading more images and videos...

Cagle’s map turtle fact file

Cagle’s map turtle description

GenusGraptemys (1)

Map turtles are named for the distinctive fine lines covering their skin and upper shell (carapace), which somewhat resemble a road or contour map, and lend an air of beauty and elegance to these species that is hard to equal (4). Like most turtles found in the green-tinted rivers it occupies, Cagle’s map turtle is a distinctive greenish colour (5) (6). The upper shell is serrated at the back, bears a steep keel of sharp spine-like projections down the centre, and is brightly patterned with black and yellow-green concentric lines and circles (2) (6).

The head, limbs and tail of Cagle’s map turtle are black with numerous cream to yellow lines, and there is a cream-coloured bar on the chin and a yellow ‘V’-shaped mark on the top of the head (2) (6). Female Cagle’s map turtles are larger than males and also have broader heads (6) (7).

Male carapace length: 7 – 12 cm (2)
Female carapace length: up to 16 cm (2)

Cagle’s map turtle biology

Cagle’s map turtle is a diurnal species that spends much of the day basking on logs and rocks in the water. A predominantly aquatic species, this turtle rarely comes onto land other than to nest (9). Hatchlings have been collected from September through November, indicating that the nesting season likely occurs in late spring to early summer (2) (6). As many as three clutches of one to six eggs may be laid by a single female each year, deposited in nest cavities approximately 15 centimetres deep near the water (2) (6) (9). Sex is temperature-dependent, with lower nest temperatures producing males and higher temperatures producing females (6) (9).

Female Cagle's map turtle feed almost exclusively on Asian clams, while the males predominantly consume caddisfly larvae, and occasionally other insects and small molluscs (6) (10). This difference in diet is correlated to the difference in head-width between the sexes (7). Plant remains have also been found in specimen’s stomachs, but are thought to have been ingested incidentally (2) (6) (9).


Cagle’s map turtle range

Cagle’s map turtle has been recorded in the Guadalupe River and its tributaries, the San Marcos and Blanco Rivers, of south-eastern Texas, United States (2) (8). Its range appears to now be restricted to a single stretch of about 120 kilometres along the lower Guadalupe River (1).


Cagle’s map turtle habitat

Generally found in shallow limestone and mud-bottomed streams with moderate currents, and in pools up to three metres in depth (2) (6) (9).


Cagle’s map turtle status

Cagle's map turtle is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1) and is listed on Appendix III of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Cagle’s map turtle threats

Relatively little is documented on the threats that face Cagle’s map turtle (1), other than the fact that its habitat is constantly being threatened by siltation, impoundment and other forms of habitat alteration (1) (11). It is also likely to be affected by disturbance by humans and by the effects of groundwater depletion (1).

Cagle’s map turtle was uplisted from Vulnerable to Endangered by the IUCN in 2011, as its range was found to have reduced by half to two-thirds since 1974. This species is now restricted to a 120 kilometre stretch of river, where it faces continued threats from habitat degradation, water diversion and human disturbance (1).


Cagle’s map turtle conservation

Cagle’s map turtle is listed as Threatened in Texas and is therefore protected within the state (1) (5). It is also listed on Appendix III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning international trade in this species should be carefully regulated (3).

Further information is needed on the distribution and population trends of Cable’s map turtle, and a population monitoring programme has been recommended. A greater understanding of the threats facing this species would also help to inform appropriate conservation measures (1).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

More information on Cagle’s map turtle:



Authenticated (28/02/2008) by Professor Peter Lindeman, Professor of Biology, Edinboro University, Pennsylvania.



Active during the day.
A body of water, such as a reservoir, confined by a dam, dike, floodgate, or other barrier.
A projecting ridge along a flat or curved surface, particularly down the middle.
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
A diverse group of invertebrates, mainly marine, that have one or all of the following; a horny, toothed ribbon in the mouth (the radula), a shell covering the upper surface of the body, and a mantle or mantle cavity with a type of gill. Includes snails, slugs, shellfish, octopuses and squid.


  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2011)
  2. Ernst, C.H., Altenburg, R.G.M. and Barbour, R.W. (1997) Turtles of the World. ETI Information Systems Ltd, Netherlands. Available at:
  3. CITES (June, 2011)
  4. Dr. David T. Kirkpatrick - Turtle-Keeper/Writer (December, 2006)
  5. Home of the Map Turtle (December, 2006)
  6. Ernst, C.H. and Lovich, J.E. (2009) Turtles of the United States and Canada. Second Edition. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
  7. Lindeman, P.V. (2000) The evolution of relative width of the head and alveolar surfaces in map turtles (Testudines: Emydidae: Graptemys). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 69: 549-576.
  8. Rose, F. (2008) Pers. comm.
  9. Protected or Sensitive Turtles at USACE Water-Control Projects (December, 2006)
  10. Porter, D.A. (1990) Feeding ecology of Graptemys caglei Haynes and McKown in the Guadalupe River, Dewitt County, Texas. Unpublished MSc. Thesis, West Texas State University, Canyon.
  11. George, G. (1991) Status and Conservation of Graptemys barbouri, Graptemys flavimaculata, Graptemys oculifera and Graptemys caglei. Proceedings First Intern. Symposium Turtle & Tortoises: Conservation Captive Husbandry, 0: 24 - 30. Available at:

Image credit

Cagle's map turtle on log  
Cagle's map turtle on log

© Bill Love /

NHPA/Photoshot Holdings Ltd
29-31 Saffron Hill
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7421 6003
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7421 6006


Link to this photo

Arkive species - Cagle’s map turtle (Graptemys caglei) Embed this Arkive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to Arkive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about



MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite Arkive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!


Back To Top