Diamondback Terrapin
Malaclemys terrapin

CLASS: Reptilia
ORDER: Chelonia
FAMILY: Emydidae

SIZE:
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.

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

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

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

DESCRIPTION:
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.

FACTS:

  • 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

YOUNG:

  • 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.

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

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