Thursday, September 30, 2010

Diamondback terrapin

The diamondback terrapin(Malacemys terrapin) or which can be simply called terrapin belongs to the genus Malacemys.  It is found to the brackish coastal swamps of  southern and eastern United States.
Its name came from an Algonquian word torope.  In British English, any semi-aquatic turtle like red eared slider is called a terrapin.

Physical Features                                                      Diamondback terrapin
Females are normally bigger than males.  Males can grow up to 5 inches and the bigger females can grow up to 7.5 inches.  Females are capable of growing bigger as seen with a specimen measuring 9 inches.  Diamondback terrapins get there name from the diamond pattern on top of the shell.  The overall pattern and color can vary depending upon the species.  Their shell can be brown or gray and their body color can be gray, brown, yellow or white.  They have an unusual pattern of spots and black markings on their head.  Normally, the terrapins which are found in the warmer areas are larger than the ones found in the cooler areas.

Life Cycle
Diamondback terrapins mate in the starting of spring.  In summer they 8 to 12 eggs in sand dunes.  Males reach maturity when they are 2 or 3 years old and reach a length of 4.5 inches.  Females take longer time to mature.  They mature at the age of 6 or 7 years old.  The females will reach a length of up to 6.75 inches.  The eggs will hatch in the starting of the fall or in the or at the ending of summer.

The diamondback terrapin has a wide range in  the eastern and southern United states.  Its range starts from far north, crossing Massachusetts and to far south to Florida.

Encounters of  Diamondback terrapin and People
On the 8th of  July, 2009, in the J.F Kennedy airport in New York, the flights were cancelled as about78 diamondback terrapins invaded the runway.  The flights were delayed for over one and a half hours.  The turtles were removed and released back to the wild.  The airport authorities believed that the terrapins had invaded the runway in search of a place to mate.  But it was revealed that they had come to the runway to deposit their eggs.

This terrapin is the state reptile of Maryland, USA.  It was once highly preferred for its taste due to which it was almost hunted to extinction.  As a result, it is listed as endangered in Rhode island and is a "species of concern" in Georgia, Delaware, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia and Louisiana.  Its holds no federal status but its population is still stable due to breeding  programs.

Source of picture 1:
Source of picture 2:

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