False Map Turtle

by Carl Strang

The addition of new species to a site list always is welcome in preserve monitoring. When that organism belongs to a group that is not well represented, the occasion is even more noteworthy. The reptile list for Mayslake Forest Preserve was very short, at two snakes and two turtles, before last week. Therefore I felt some delight when I spotted an unusual profile among the turtles basking in the spring sun at May’s Lake.

It was backlit, but the little knobs on the center of the shell distinguished it from the midland painted turtles that are the usual visual fare.

Fortunately I could see enough to identify the new turtle.

Those knobs, the brown back, and the relatively small head make this a false map turtle.

Personally this was a special treat, as I have loved turtles from childhood on. I suspect that there are more reptiles (though probably not more amphibians) to be found on the preserve, but with the tiger salamander and the false map turtle both added last week, the picture is improving.

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