Do Mississippi Map Turtles Bite

Do Mississippi Map Turtles Bite? – Everything There Is To Know!

Interested in keeping Mississippi map turtles? If yes, you probably have so many questions storming your head right now, namely, do the turtles bite? Don’t worry because, in this article, you can find answers to all your questions about Mississippi map turtle biting. 

So, do Mississippi map turtles bite? Yes, Mississippi map turtles do bite but not for no apparent reason. They mostly bite when they feel threatened. The good news? While their bites can hurt, they are not poisonous. Also, most of the nips are hardly ever serious.

Apart from biting when they feel attacked, there are other reasons why Mississippi turtles bite. Read on to find out this and much more.  

Do Mississippi Map Turtles Bite?


Yes, they do. Although Mississippi map turtles are touted for being friendly creatures, these turtle species can bite. They might bite you or their own just over food, similar to other species of turtles. And in most cases, adult turtles will gnaw when they feel threatened.  

But guess what? These aquatic turtles with brown lines don’t have teeth. Instead, they have horny beaks, which they use for biting. Their jaws are also very robust, making their bites painful.

Mississippi Map Turtles Bite

Although these common map turtles usually bite, this behavior is common among wild turtles. In other words, your pet map turtles will hardly nip because they are more tolerant of humans. Even so, both adult females and males can bite you for various reasons such as:

  • Forcing the turtle to come out of its shell
  • Feeling unsafe or insecure
  • Confusing your toes for worms or berries
  • Mistaking your leg for a shrub

The good news is that the bite of a Mississippi map tortoise is not poisonous. However, it can be overly painful depending on how hard the turtle has bitten you. In most cases, the bite will feel like a cut and may hurt 2-3 times more than a pinch.

Mississippi Map Turtles Bite

In fact, the turtle nip may leave you with a few marks. But if the turtle bites your finger, you might feel like it’s a soft or slight pinch. In this case, you should not try pulling your finger out of the turtle’s beak. Doing so could only make the ringed map turtle bite more.

A nip on the toe or the forearm, on the other hand, can hurt a lot. You could even end up bleeding. Fortunately, the bruises usually heal pretty quickly. You just need to clean the area with a disinfectant or visit your doctor if the bite looks deep.

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Reasons why Mississippi Map Turtles Might Bite You

These turtle species may bite you for many reasons. So, what are these reasons? Read on to find out.

Reasons why Mississippi Map Turtles Might Bite You

Defense purposes

One of the reasons a Mississippi or Northern map turtle will nip you is to defend itself. This happens when the shy turtle feels like you are attacking it.

Feelings of disturbance

Mississippi male and female turtles really do love some alone time. Therefore, if they feel you are being a bother, they might bite you.

Forcing it to get out of its shell

Once the Mississippi turtle hides in its shell, you should not disturb it. Trying to force your finger inside the carapace will make the single turtle feel like it’s under attack. 

Reasons why Mississippi Map Turtles Might Bite You

Feeling stressed 

Additionally, a ringed map turtle may attack you out of anxiety, panic, or when feeling stressed. This is common, especially when moving it from one spot to another. 

Mistaking your toes or fingers for food

A hungry turtle could also bite you. For instance, it might mistake your toes for berries and your legs for shrubs.

Can Mississippi Map Turtle Bite Off Your Finger or Toe?

No. The Mississippi or Northern map turtle may bruise your finger or toe thinking it might be food but won’t bite off. However, an alligator snapping turtle can bite off your finger and other body parts when threatened. 

Can Mississippi Map Turtle Bite Off Your Finger or Toe

What Happens When Mississippi Map Turtle Bites?

If the bite is not severe, you might only end up with some bruises, which should heal in no time. However, if the ringed map turtle bites you so hard, you could bleed on the wounded area. And once the wound heals, you will be left with a few spots.

What To Do If a Mississippi Map Turtle Bites You?

You simply wait for the turtle to release your bitten finger, toe, or arm first. Then, wash your hands and disinfect the wounded area to avoid a fungal infection. But if the bite is deep, ensure you see a doctor after cleaning the cut with a disinfectant.

What To Do If a Mississippi Map Turtle Bites You

Tips To Avoid Getting Bitten by a Mississippi Map Turtle 

Bites from captive-bred turtles can be painful or even unbearable sometimes. So, below are tips that could help you avoid them.

  1. The rule of thumb is, don’t try forcing the turtle out of its shell because these species hate being disturbed.
  2. When feeding Mississippi maps, don’t do it with your bare hands. Instead, just place the food inside the map turtle enclosure.
  3. Be as gentle as possible when handling captive-bred turtles, you must avoid making them anxious.
  4. Always feed your Mississippi maps on time in their captive enclosures because when they are starving, they can easily bite you.
  5. If the Mississippi adult turtles look stressed, just leave them alone for a while.
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How Do You Pick Up a Mississippi Map Turtle to Avoid Bites

The easiest way is by sliding your hand underneath the body of your Northern map turtle. Then, lift it up slowly with your two hands as your thumbs rest on its top shell. Alternatively, you could hold these aquatic species by both sides of the body just in front of their rear legs. The important thing is you don’t grasp the turtle by its tail as this could dislocate its bones.

How Do You Pick Up a Mississippi Map Turtle to Avoid Bites


Before concluding, check out these frequently asked questions about the Mississippi map turtle bites.

1. Do Mississippi map turtles bite hard?

If they feel under attack, these pet turtles can bite very hard. But in most cases, the bites tend to be subtle like those of helmeted turtles or box turtles.

2. Can a Mississippi map turtle bite your finger off?

Although rare, it is possible just like with ornate box turtles. However, this could happen with the alligator snapping turtle, an aquatic turtle species commonly found in Louisiana.

3. Do Mississippi map turtle bites hurt?

Yes, they do. If the Mississippi map turtle bites your toe, it can hurt a lot. However, a nip on the finger might feel like just a soft pinch.


Mississippi map turtles do make good pets just like box turtles or black-knobbed map turtles. However, it is not uncommon for them to bite, which may happen for many reasons. These false map turtles could bite your finger or even your toes. The important thing is knowing what to do if the turtle bites you and how to avoid the nips.

If you are wondering if florida softshell turtles and box turtles bite? check out our articles on it.

Do Mississippi Map Turtles Bite

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