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Diamondback Terrapin Malaclemys terrapin


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Diamondback Terrapin, Ornate subspecies
credit: Tom

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Family: Emydidae, Pond and Box Turtles view all from this family

Description Browns to grey, body color grey, brown, yellow, or white. All have a unique pattern of wiggly, black markings or spots on their body and head. Oblong plastron.

Dimensions 10.2-13.8cm. (4-5 1/2"). Females 15.2-23.8cm. (6-9 3/8")

Subspecies Northern (M. t. terrapin), wedge shaped carapace. North Carolina - Cape Cod to Cape hatteras.
Carolina (M. t. centrata), Oval carapace. North Carolina, Cape Hatteras to n. Florida.
Florida East Coast (M. t. tequesta), Dark carapace. Atlantic coast of Florida.
Mangrove (M. t. rhizophorarum), Striped on neck and hind legs. Florida Keys.
Ornate (M. t. macrospilota),Carapace scutes have orange botches. Florida Bay to Florida panhandle.
Mississippi (M. t. pileata), Brownish/black carapace, yellow plastron. Florida to w. Louisiana.
Texas (M. t. littorals), White Plastron. Black spots on greenish/gray legs. Louisiana to w. Texas.

Breeding April-May. Later on in North. Eggs pinkish white with thin shells. 4-18 in a clutch. Nest cavity dug in sandy marshes, 4-8" deep.

Habitat Estuaries, lagoons and marshes.

Range Eastern & southern United States. Cape Cod to Florida across through Texas and along Gulf Coast.

Discussion Formerly thought to be a delicacy, now protected due to reduced numbers from over-hunting. Diet of mollusks, fiddler crabs, and occasionally small fish. Bask on mud flats.