Terrapin turtles eat fish, snails, worms, clams, crabs and marsh plants. They are native to the eastern and southern United States and are the only turtle in the world to live exclusively in brackish salt water. They have diamond shaped markings on their shells and are often called diamondback terrapin. Their hind feet are webbed and muscled, enabling them to swim against the tides and currents of their natural habitat.
The terrapin has a life span of approximately 40 years. They lay their eggs on sandy beaches or in coastal dunes and produce three clutches of eggs per nesting season. Each clutch contains from eight to 12 eggs. Many of the young are lost to predators, such as raccoons, crows, rats and birds.
The male of the species is smaller than the female, with a maximum shell length of 5.5 inches. The female can grow a shell as large as 11 inches. Terrapin hibernate during the winter months by burying themselves in the mud at the bottom of the water and emerging in the spring.
Terrapin are harvested commercially for their meat. Commercial harvesting, habitat destruction, climate change and high predation rates affect population numbers. Storm surges and beach erosion also endanger the terrapin.