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Diamondback Terrapin

Malaclemys terrapin

A diamondback terrapin, or turtle smiles at the camera as it sits on two others
Max Size: Females 23 cm (9 in), Males average 13 cm (5 in)

Habitat: Brackish coastal tidal marshes from the Florida Keys to Cape Cod

Diet: Fish, crustaceans, marine snails and bivalve mollusks





Fun Facts:

  • By consuming snails (like periwinkles) that overgraze on ecologically important marsh grasses such as Spartina sp., terrapins can play a keystone role in supporting ecosystem health
  • Like nearly all non-avian reptiles, terrapins exhibit sexual dimorphism wherein the females are larger and stronger than males
  • The word terrapin is derived from the Algonquin word “torope” meaning “a little turtle”, and is now used to describe various brackish water turtles around the world, only 3 of which – including the Diamondback – are native to the US
  • Due to historic hunting/harvesting to make turtle soup by colonial americans, the terrapins are now protected in many states, making them illegal to hold as pets
  • To balance their body’s salt concentration, they use lachrymal (tear duct) salt glands to expel excess salt and can drink water through their nose

Claws up for Crab Week

Crab Week is a weeklong crustacean celebration from July 14-20.

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