Sometimes known as a mangrove terrapin, you’ll find these little friendly creatures in land-locked brackish water ponds in Hamilton Parish. They are classified as a level 2 protected species and declared to be Vulnerable under the Protected Species Act. Find out what makes these terrapins so special in these five facts.
1. It is believed that the only turtle in the world that can live in brackish water is the Diamondback terrapin. They have certain qualities that their fresh water relatives do not. Their skin is resistant to salt. They have lachrymal salt glands which flush out extra salt in their bodies. They can distinguish between drinking water of different salinities. For example they can distinguish and drink the fresh rainfall layer that sits on top of saltwater.
2. Most Diamondback terrapins live along the eastern seaboard of the USA. The only place where diamondback terrapins appear to naturally reside outside of their North American range is in Bermuda.
3. These terrapin’s lifespans have been estimated to be around 20 years in the wild but may last as long as 40 years in captivity. Some researchers used the concentric rings on their shells to estimate the age of a terrapin. However, older diamondbacks’ rings tend to appear fainter or completely faded, so this technique remains a debatable method of aging terrapins.
4. Mature female diamondbacks are almost twice the size of mature males, with females having disproportionately larger heads and therefore a stronger jaw and bite force for crushing bigger food.
5. The life of a diamondback terrapin is a social one, they are often seen basking in the sun together during the day. Terrapins are strong swimmers with webbed hind feet, spending the majority of their life in water but leaving the water to lay eggs in sand.
Looking to learn more? Read our interview with Dr Mark Outerbridge https://www.thebermudian.com/home-a-garden/nature/wildlife-101-diamondback-terrapins-with-dr-mark-outerbridge-2/