Field Guide to Maryland's Turtles (Order Testudines)
Northern Diamond-backed Terrapin
Malaclemys t. terrapin
Photo of Northern Diamond-backed Terrapin courtesy of Lori Erb
Adult females, 6 - 9 inches. Adult males, 4 - 5½ inches.
Photo of Northern Diamond-backed Terrapin courtesy of John White
A turtle of estuaries and tidal rivers. It can be found on sandy beaches and bay islands where it lays its eggs in late May to early July, coastal marshes, and any brackish waters.
How to Find
Look for them along coastal bay shorelines, islands and marshes during the breeding season, where they are easily captured.
They can be observed in the water through binoculars, with their inquisitive heads extended “periscope” fashion.
Photo of Habitat for Northern Diamond-backed Terrapin courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers
Distribution in Maryland
East of the Fall Line, southern Maryland (Prince George's, Anne Arundel, Charles, Calvert and St. Mary's Counties) to the Eastern Shore.
- Discover Maryland's Herps
- Maryland Herp History
- Maryland Herp Checklist
- Survey Techniques, Collecting Ethics, Safety and the Law
- Problems with Buying Frogs and Tadpoles for Wild Release
- Technical Guide: A Key to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Maryland - 86.3 MB pdf file
- Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas (MARA) Project
- Natural Heritage Program
- Wildlife & Heritage Home
"A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"
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The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.