DEEP: Northern Diamondback Terrapin

Northern Diamondback Terrapin

(Malaclemys t. terrapin)

{Northern Diamondback Terrapin}

IDENTIFICATION: A medium-size turtle with a moderately domed, gray, keeled carapace, with each scute possessing concentric grooves. The plastron is orange-brown, and may be vividly patterned. The body coloration is quite variable, ranging from uniform slate gray to cream with dark black speckles. There is a distinctive white area above and below the cusps of the jaw. Females are much larger than males, adult carapace length 100-230 mm.

Terrapins are restricted to salt marshes, tidal creeks, and estuaries. This species requires brackish water and has been reported along the entire Connecticut shoreline, though it is less common between the Thames River and the Rhode Island state line. Once decimated by collection for human consumption, this species has made a strong comeback in many areas of the northeast including Connecticut. Road kills, mortality from motorboat strikes, and loss of nesting areas threaten its survival. Terrapins are incidentally captured and drowned in crab pots. The take of or posession of terrapins is prohibited in Connecticut. The collection of terrapins is regulated throughout the northeast by the various range states.

Turtles | Amphibians and Reptiles in Connecticut