Diamondback Terrapin

The Diamondback Terrapin, our Maryland State Reptile!


Leslie and I are in the process of performing an ongoing rare, threatened and endangered plant survey for a client in St. Mary’s County, MD.  While investigating a section of beach on the tidal Saint Mary’s River, we came across an adult female diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin).

I think we startled the turtle’s privacy and suspect that she was investigating nesting sites.  I laid down on the beach with my feet in the water to capture these close-up, face-on photos.


Immediately, the turtle was looking for her escape route to the water.


Diamondbacks are an indicator of relative health, as they prefer unpolluted saltwater and quality marsh systems.


In winter they hibernate underwater in mud, and emerge in May.  During June they are in mating and nesting mode.  Males are smaller, averaging 5-inches.  Females reach maturity at about 7-years and are larger than the males, having an average 7-inch shell.  Diamondbacks live upwards to 20-years old.


They are a native southeast coastline species, and occur from the Chesapeake Bay, south to Florida.


The diamondback terrapin is the Maryland State reptile, and official mascot of the University of Maryland at College Park, my undergraduate alma mater.  Go Terps!


She looks like she is wearing Terps Under Armour.


I’m outta here NCAA, going to the Big-10.