Florida Diamondback Terrapin
A Florida Diamondback Terrapin
Malaclemys terrapin

Photo credit: LT Shears


The Endangered Reptiles of Florida



The Turtles of Florida


Endangered or Threatened Florida Sea Turtles


Endangered or Threatened Florida Freshwater Turtles


The Diamondback Terrapin
Malaclemys terrapin


In the language of my people, the Shawnee,

Terrapin means Turtle.


The Algonquin people gave them the name

Terrapin meaning edible turtle in brackish water.


The Terrapin diet consists of small crabs, fish and mollusks,

(their jaws are strong and able to crush the shells of these).

Predators include foxes, birds, raccoons, skunks and muskrats.


The Diamondbacks take their name from the markings

or patterns on their backs.

Like many other Turtles, the Terrapins are often

found basking on logs in warmer weather.


The Diamondback Terrapin is sexually dimorphic,

or physical differences by sex and

in this case, the females are larger.

Warmer areas produce larger turtles in this species.

Males reach a size of about five inches at maturity,

the females are a bit bigger at 7.5 inches.


The Terrapin was hunted nearly to extinction

because of its popularity as a food source.

At one time, it was a delicacy at many upscale restaurants

and early Slaves were so frequently served this turtle as

their only protein source, that they began complaining.


The Diamondback Terrapin, unlike any other, chooses to

live in Coastal Salt marshes or Brackish swamp waters along

the Eastern Seaboard from New England to the Florida Keys.

Terrapins hibernate in the winter,

buried in the mud of their local environment.

The Florida Diamondback Terrapin
Female Adult Diamondback Terrapin
Photo credit: Mary@NOAA

Although this species is neither Threatened,

nor Endangered, it is none the less protected

by several states, including New York.


Casualties come each year from habitat destruction,

over hunting and/or drowning in eel or crab traps/pots.


Sadly, the beautiful Terrapin is available

to buy on countless web sites.


Places to learn more:

Animal Diversity Web

Malaclemys terrapin


Defenders of Wildlife

Diamondback Terrapin

Protecting the Diamondback


Hackensack River Keeper

The Diamondback Terrapin


Maryland State Government

Diamondback Terrapins


National Institute of Health

Isolation of Bacteria


University of Delaware

The Diamondback Terrapin


University of Florida

Freshwater Turtles

Turtles and Aquatic Plants



Biology and Toxology



Walking with the Alligators

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Educating Visitors About Florida's Wildlife Since June 20, 2008

Last edited June 4, 2022

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