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Common map turtles are medium-sized turtles.There is a degree of size difference between males and females, with females having significantly larger carapace, or upper shell, lengths 7 to 10.5 inches than males 3.5 to 6.5 inches. Their carapace also has blunt vertebral keels. The carapace is usually olive-green to brown with darker blotches. The plastron (lower shell) of these turtles is whitish-yellow with a distinct "road map" pattern along the margins. The head, legs, and tails of most map turtles are olive or greenish with yellow lines. The diet varies per gender, females have broad jaws designed for crushing clams and snails, or crayfish. Males, on the other hand, are reported to eat softer prey such as insects and their larvae. Female map turtles begin crawling from the water to during June and early July to find a suitable site for laying their eggs. During this time, map turtles are often seen in large numbers, trying to cross busy roads found near water. Because they are usually wary and avoid people while basking, the nesting season may be the only time that one would be fortunate enough to get a good look at a map turtle. After finding a satisfactory spot, a female turtle digs a flask-shaped burrow with her hind feet and deposits 7 to 13 eggs (map turtle eggs are elliptical, not spherical like snapping turtle eggs; see below). Afterwards, she covers the eggs and returns to the water.
Wetland habitats with plenty of vegetation, slow current and soft bottoms such as some rivers and large creeks, reservoirs, large lakes.