Diamond-backed Terrapin

Species Name: Malaclemys terrapin

Species Distribution in Massachusetts

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Federal Rank: None

Massachusetts State Rank: Threatened

Habitat Description

Marshes which border quiet salt or brackish tidal waters. Also found in mud flats, shallow bays, coves and tidal estuaries. Adjacent sandy dry upland areas are required for nesting.

Threats to Survival

A demand for the turtle in the gourmet food industry nearly wiped out the population in the early 20th century. While it is now illegal in Massachusetts, reduction of salt marsh habitat and alteration of water composition, pollution, roadkill, and predation of eggs and nests have all contributed to the decline in population.

Actions Recommended to Ensure Survival

Habitat management and restoration guidelines need to be developed and implemented to promote breeding at key sites, most easily done on state owned conservation land. Alternative wildlife corridor structures, educational materials and increased law enforcement should also be implemented. Since the species is elusive and non-migratory, people might not realize their activities are affecting the species, so awareness of their status should be promoted.