Map Turtles

Air Temperature:  

80-85 F


Basking Temperature:  

85-95 F


Water Temperature:  

72-76 F for adults

78-80 F for hatchlings


Water Depth:

8" for hatchlings the size of a half-dollar, increase it as they grow


Habitat Size Guidelines

MINIMUM Habitat Size for a SINGLE Turtle

BETTER Habitat Size for a SINGLE Turtle

  • Volume - at least 10 gallons of water per inch of shell. 
    • This is the amount of actual water in the tank, not the tank size. 
  • Length - at least 5x the length of turtle
  • Width - at least 1.5 - 3x the length of turtle
  • Height - at least 1.5 - 3x the length of turtle,
  • Basking area - at least 25 - 35% of the tanks surface area.
  • Volume - at least 10 gallons of water per inch of shell. 
    • This is the amount of actual water in the tank, not the tank size. 
  • Length - 10x the length of turtle
  • Width -   5x the length of turtle
  • Height -  5x the length of turtle
  • Basking area - at least 25 - 35% of the tanks surface area.


A proper habitat meets or exceeds ALL of the above, not just the 10g per inch of shell rule people offer as a quick guideline.

If all other conditions are met and you have a choice of larger length, width or height - go for the length, then width, then height - in that order, since turtles spend more time swimming horizontal than vertical. Bigger is better!

These are MINIMUM recommended enclosure sizes for a single map turtle - make sure your final tank meets ALL of these. You can save money by starting with your turtles adult size tank. 

For each additional turtle, increase the size of the largest turtles habitat need by at least half. At bare minimum you need 20 extra gallons of water for a male and 50 extra gallons of water for a female. IDEALLY, you combine EACH turtles shell length and base a habitat for multiple turtles on the COMBINED shell length. Caution - whenever you are housing multiple turtles you MUST have a way to separate them into individual habitats if aggression issues arise.

Tank sizes that meet the minimum requirements.

Our recommended pick

Young up to 3"

Volume = 30 gallon
Length (10x) - 30"
Width (4x - 5x) - 12" -15"
Height (4x- 5x) - 12" - 15"



Recommended sizes:
3 foot tanks
30 L -    36 x 12 x 17
30 BR - 36 x 18 x 12
40 BR - 36 x 18 x 16
50 -       36 x 18 x 18

4 foot tanks
40 -       48 x 13 x 16
55 -       48 x 13 x 20


Will work in a pinch:
29g -     30 x 12 x 18
*Only 1g short

20L -     30 x 12 x 12
*Only if you already own this tank size. Should be replaced when turtle is 2"

Sadly, this 20L is the size many pet stores will sell a new turtle owner.

Never buy a "turtle tank" with a wall cut out for a filter. This is not enough water for anything but a hatchling and reduces the structural integrity of the tank.

Unless you happen to already own a tank, we recommend starting out by purchasing at least a 55 gallon. This size is commonly available and could be used for most adult male map turtles. 

Some of the chain pet stores have a "dollar a gallon" sale a couple times a year for tanks up to 55g. This often makes it the most economical starter habitat for your turtle.

It is very easy to overheat a too small enclosure, which is why we recommend starting with a larger tank.

Male up to 5"

Volume - 50 gallon

Length (5x - 10x)- 25" - 50"
Width (3x - 5x) - 15" - 25"
Height (3x - 5x) - 15" - 25"



Recommended sizes:
3 foot tanks
50 - 36 x 18 x 18

4 foot tanks
55- 48 x 13 x 20
75 - 48 x 18 x 20
90 - 48 x 18 x 24
110XH -  48 x 18 x 30


Larger EXCEPTIONS: 
Male False Map = 5.75"
Male Northern Map = 6"

These you really want at least a 75 gallon tank.


OUR TOP PICK

For a hatchling map turtle start with a 55g or better a 75g or 90g. With a low water level that rises as your turtle becomes a more competent swimmer, this size will serve as your turtles home until it is of a size to reliably sex it.


Once the gender is known, you can decide if you need a larger tank or not.


Males will likely be able to remain in this tank. Most females would need a larger one.

If you start with a 4' tank from a hatchling and plan to save for a larger tank, you will probably only need two tanks for your turtle, possibly just one if yours is a male.

Female up to 11"

Volume  - 110 gallon

Length (5x - 10x) - 55" - 110"
Width (2x) - 22" - 55"
Width (1.5x) - 16.5"
Height (2x) - 22"
Height (1.5x) - 16.5"

Recommended sizes:
5 foot tanks
100 - 60 x 18 x 20
110 - 60 x 18 x 24
*think this is an oceanic brand size

6 foot tanks
125L - 72 x 18 x 20
135 - 72 x 18 x 24
150 - 72 x 18 x 28
180 - 72 x 24 x 24

8 foot tanks
200 - 96 x 24 x 20
225 - 96 x 24 x 24
240 - 96 x 24 x 24
300 - 96 x 24 x 30

Without a custom build, it is nearly impossible to find an aquarium that meets the "better habitat size" for a large female map turtle.

Larger EXCEPTIONS:
Female Alabama Map = 11.5"
Female Barbour's Map = 13"
Female Pascagoula Map = 11.5"

11.5" = 2x = 23" 
            1.5x = 17.25 
Needs at least 115 g, 
IDEALLY has a 24" width and height

13" = 2x = 26" 
         1.5x = 19.5 -
Needs at least, 130g, 
MUST have a 24" width and height


Map Turtle Sizes

Average size range 
for most types of map turtles:

Males - 3.5" - 5"
Females - 5" - 11"

Any given individual turtle could exceed the average size ranges.

Many pet store turtles are not a pure type, but rather an inter-grade or simply mislabeled. It is best to use the largest size estimate in determining future housing needs.
Alabama Map
Male - 3.5" - 5"
Female - 7" - 11.5"

Barbour's Map

Male - 3.5" - 5"
Female - 7" - 13"
Black-Knobbed Sawback
Male - 3" - 4"
Female - 6" - 10"

Cagle's Map

Male - 2.5" - 4"
Female - 4" - 6.5"

False Map

Male - 3.5" - 5.75"
Female - 5" - 10.75"

Mississippi Map

Male - 3.5" - 5"
Female - 6" - 10"

Northern Map

Male - 4" - 6"
Female - 7" - 10.75"

Ouachita Map

Male - 3.5" - 5"
Female - 5" - 10.75"

Pascagoula Map

Male - 3.5" - 5"
Female - 7" - 11.5"

Texas Map

Male - 2.75" - 4.5"
Female - 3.5" - 8.5"

Yellow-Blotched Sawback

Male - 3" - 4"
Female - 6" - 6.75"