Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) - Wiki
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[Photo] Adult female Diamondback turtle being balanced on a NOAA employee's arm.
The Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) is a species of turtle native to the brackish coastal swamps of the eastern and southern United States, from as far north as Cape Cod, Massachusetts and as far south as Corpus Christi, Texas.
The species is named for the diamond pattern on top of its shell, but the overall pattern and coloration varies greatly by species. Their shell coloring can vary from browns to greys, and their body color can be grey, brown, yellow, or white. All have a unique pattern of wiggly, black markings or spots on their body and head. The species is sexually dimorphic in that the males grow to approximately 5 inches, while the females grow to an average of around 7.5 inches, though they are capable of growing larger. The largest female on record was just over 9 inches in length. Specimens from regions that are consistently warmer in temperature tend to be larger than those from cooler, more northern areas.
Adult diamondback terrapins mate in the early spring, and clutches of 5-12 eggs are laid in sand dunes in the early summer. They hatch in late summer or early fall. Maturity in males is reached in 2-3 years at around 4.5 inches in length; it takes longer for females: 6-7 years at a length of around 6.75 inches.
Carolina Diamondback Terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin centrata (Latreille, 1802)
Texas Diamondback Terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin littoralis (Hay, 1904)
Ornate Diamondback Terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin macrospilota (Hay, 1904)
Mississippi Diamondback Terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin pileata (Wied-Neuwied, 1865)
Mangrove Diamondback Terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin rhizophorarum (Fowler, 1906)
East Coast Florida Diamondback Terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin tequesta (Schwartz, 1955)
Northern Diamondback Terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin terrapin (Schoepf, 1793)
The diamondback terrapin is the State Reptile of the U.S. state of Maryland and is the official mascot of the University of Maryland, College Park. The species was once considered a delicacy to eat and was hunted almost to extinction. Due to this it is listed as an endangered species in Rhode Island, is considered a threatened species in Massachusetts, and it is considered a "species of concern" in Georgia, Delaware, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Virginia, but it holds no federal status.
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