for the diamond-shaped growth rings on its top shell, the diamondback
terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) a turtle native to the eastern and
southern United States.
Diamondback terrapins consume fish, snails, worms, clams, crabs
and marsh plants.
The diamondback terrapin is found along the Atlantic Coast of the
eastern United States from Cape Cod to the Florida Keys and west
along the Gulf Coast to Texas.
The diamondback terrapin is believed to be the only turtle in the
world that lives exclusively in brackish water (containing some
salt, but not as much as ocean water), habitats like tidal marshes,
estuaries and lagoons. Most terrapins hibernate during the winter
by burrowing into the mud of marshes. Although diamondback terrapins
live in tidal marshes, estuaries and lagoons, their preferred nesting
sites are sandy beaches.
7.5 inches (females);
5 inches (males).
1.5 lbs (females);
0.5 lbs (males).
The diamondback terrapin is light brown, gray or black
on top with a bottom shell that ranges from yellow to olive
Season: May through July.
Gestation: Around 60 days.
Clutch size: 8-12 eggs.
The gender of diamondback terrapin offspring is determined by
temperature a higher nest temperature produces more females
while a lower nest temperature produces more males.
The hatchlings emerge from August to October and are completely
on their own. Only 1 to 3% of the eggs laid produce a hatchling,
and the number of hatchlings that survive to adulthood is believed
to be similarly low.
After hatching, some young remain in the nest during the winter
although most emerge and enter the nearest body of water.
The diamondback terrapin is threatened by habitat destruction, road
construction (terrapins are common roadkill) and drowning in crab
Climate change is also poised to bring major changes to the
terrapins habitats and life cycle. By the end of this century,
sea level is projected to rise between 2.25 feet under a low emissions
scenario and up to 3.25 feet under the highest emissions scenario.
Due to land subsidence in the Northeast, the effect of the rise
will seem about 10 to 20% higher than the actual. Salt water incursion
into brackish tidal marshes will alter their character and potentially
make large areas saltier than the terrapin can tolerate. Storm surges
and beach erosion threaten their preferred nesting habitats. And
higher temperatures on nesting beaches could skew the sex ratios