Diamondback terrapins belong to the pond and marsh turtles
which comprise the largest family of living turtles, including cooters and sliders
, and box turtles
All of the diamondback terrapins in Florida live in saltwater marshes and mangrove thickets, often sunning themselves on mudflats. They are active during the day and feed on small marine invertebrates, particularly mollusks. In the spring, females lay their eggs in dry sand cavities above the high tide line. Females are larger than males.
The Diamondback Terrapin
, Malaclemys terrapin
, is found in undeveloped areas along the coasts. It has a gray to black shell. Females may reach a length of 9". It is active during the day.
The Carolina Diamondback Terrapin
, Malaclemys terrapin centrata
, is found along the north Atlantic coast. It has a wide brown or black shell. Females may grow to 9"; males to 5.5"..
The Ornate Diamondback Terrapin
, Malaclemys terrapin macrospilota
, is found on the west coast from Florida Bay to Walton County in the panhandle. Its shell is covered with hexagons edged by ridges with a yellowish spot in the center of each hexagon. The body is light gray or silvery with black spots. It has relatively large yellow or white lips. Juveniles have a ridge of knobs down the center of their shells. Adult females reach a maximum length of 8"; males 5.5".
The Mississippi Diamondback Terrapin
, Malaclemys terrapin pileata
, is found on the Gulf coast in the extreme western panhandle. Its oval, bumpy shell is brown or black. There are spots on the head.
The Mangrove Diamondback Terrapin
, Malaclemys terrapin rhizophorarum
, is found along the extreme southern coast. Its shell is dark with concentric light and dark rings.
The Florida East Coast Diamondback Terrapin
, Malaclemys terrapin tequesta
, is found on the east coast from Volusia to Dade County. Its shell is dark without markings. Females reach a maximum length of 9".
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