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Diamondback Terrapin

© written by Tasha Guenther

Baby Diamondback turtle

"Baby Diamondback Terrapin"; used with permission under CC BY 2.0

The Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) is most known for the diamond-shaped plates (scutes) on its shell! Also, this turtle is often thought to be the only real terrapin. The Diamondback terrapin is a part of the American pond turtle family, Emydidae. Another interesting characteristic of these turtles is the black speckles all over the their bodies - they kind of look like freckles or poppy seeds!

These turtles range from a shiny silver or off-white to gray or even black! Their shells can be brown, gray, yellow-brown, or black. Safe to say, they come in all shades!

Adult Diamondback turtle

"Adult Diamondback Terrapin"; used with permission under CC BY 2.0

Diamondback terrapins live in freshwater and love to swim! They apparently also love the sun, and can be found basking (basically, soaking in) the sun along the water's edge.

Because these turtles live quite long - up to 40 years - they change quite a lot by the time they grow up! Even more interesting is the fact that female Diamondbacks grow up to double the size of males! Where the males are considered medium-sized, measuring up to 15 cm, females can measure up to 30 cm long!

Females obviously lay the eggs. They can lay between 5 and 60 eggs per year (no, this is not a joke). However, the survival rate of these eggs, and the turtles that hatch from them, is very low. Predators like snakes, raccoons, birds, and even fish will prey on Diamondback offspring.