Malaclemys terrapin

Common Names: Diamondback terrapin
Category: Reptiles
Sub-category: Turtles

A species of turtle native to the brackish coastal swamps of the eastern and southern United States. The common name refers to the diamond pattern on top of its shell (carapace), but the overall pattern and coloration vary greatly. The shell is usually wider at the back than in the front and from above its appears wedge shaped. Its shell coloring can vary from browns to greys, and its body color can be grey, brown, yellow, or white. All have a unique pattern of wiggly, black markings or spots on their body and head. The diamondback terrapin have large webbed feet. The species is sexually dimorphic in that the males grow to approximately 5.1 inches, while the females grow to an average of around 7.5 inches, though they are capable of growing larger.

Found near salt water coastal areas. They can survive in freshwater as well as full strength ocean water but adults prefer intermediate salinities.

Edible Notes: In the 1900s the species was once considered a delicacy to eat and was hunted almost to extinction. Many nearby states consider it an endangered or threatened species, however in Connecticut it holds no federal conservation status. Look for canned snapping turtle soup in specialty food stores as a reasonable alternative.
Warnings: Like all reptiles, they carry a risk of Salmonella on their skin and shell.