Northern Diamondback Terrapin

By Beth and Tom C

 

SCIENTIFIC NAME

Malaclemys terrapin terrapin

ADULT SIZE

Male    4 - 6.5"             Female   6 - 9"

DIET

Fish, marine snails, invertebrates, marine and tidal mollusks, carrion, clams, worms, gastropods, crab

TEMPERATURE RANGE (F)

Air Temperature:  Low to mid 80's

Basking Temperature:  High 80's to low 90's

Water Temperature:  Low to mid 70's

SPECIFIC GRAVITY

1.017 - 1.012

pH LEVEL

7.5 - 8.25

HABITAT

Tidal flats, coves, estuaries, coastal marches, inner edges of barrier beaches, salt and brackish water that are sheltered and unpolluted waters.

DISTRIBUTION

Massachusetts to Texas and North Carolina.

BEGINNER TURTLE

Yes if it is Captive-Bred.  If terrapin is Wild-Caught it would be better off for intermediate and experienced keepers.

CAPTIVE HABITAT

These are aggressive baskers, so a basking spot is required. UVB lighting is needed as well as a heat lamp over the basking spot. A submersible heater is recommended if the water temps fall below the recommendation. They are excellent swimmers and their captive habitat should have a water depth as deep as possible. Substrate should be anywhere from a sand to a fine-to-large size gravel. Abundant vegetation, either artificial or real, is recommended.

RECOMMENDED ENCLOSURE

Recommended size for a single 6" male adult would be a 55 gallon aquarium as a minimum (65 gallon or larger preferred) for males, and a  75 gallon aquarium as a minimum (90 gallons or larger preferred) for females. This will provide adequate swimming area, as well as assisting the filtration in maintaining good water quality. For additional space, I would recommend adding 30 gallons of tank space per additional turtle at a minimum.

Stock Tanks and Rubbermaid containers also work well. The same space recommendations remain the same.

CAPTIVE DIET

In captivity, they do well on Mazuri and ReptoMin, Reptile/Pond 10, Cichlid Sticks, snails, crickets and assorted worms and insects. Crayfish have been known to cause fungus infections to captive DBTs

COMMUNITY HABITAT

Ornate Diamondback Terrapins are a great turtle for a community habitat with Sliders, Cooters, other Map Turtles and Painted Turtles, unless brackish water conditions area chosen.

OTHER INFORMATION

DBTs do well in both fresh water and brackish water.  DBTs are known for fighting between each other, especially hatchlings.