Diamondback Terrapin
Malaclemys terrapin

CLASS: Reptilia
ORDER: Chelonia
FAMILY: Emydidae

Males average 5 inches in plastron length and weigh about 17 ounces. The much larger females measure 7.5 inches and can weigh as much as 4.42 lbs.

North America along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Massachusetts to Mexico.

Salt Marshes, tidal marshes, coastal rivers, mangrove swamps, and the open sea.

Wild - Snails, crabs, shrimp, roots and shoots of marsh plants
Zoo - Fish, meat

Scales on carapace have concentric rings, thus the name "diamondback"; Light brown, gray, or black carapace with plastron yellow to olive in color; Skin often has striking black and white color patterns, spots or lines.


  • As in all turtles, no teeth but strong horny beaks
  • Can live as long as 40 years and beyond
  • Terrapin is an Algonquian Indian word for edible turtles that live in fresh or brackish water
  • Webbed feet; Sharp claws


  • Reproduction age 6 - 10 years for males, 8 - 13 for females
  • Mating takes place in water; females will lay eggs for up to 4 years before mating again
  • Nests are located above the high tide mark; 5 - 13 pinkish eggs layed in each nest; 60 - 100 days to hatch; eggs vulnerable to carnivores, hatchlings vulnerable to birds, carnivores.

Was almost hunted to extinction as food source. Populations have been rebuilt due to conservation and due to lack of popularity as food.

"Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia," Vol. 6, Reptiles, Dr. Bernhard Grzimek
National Aquarium in Baltimore resource report