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Hudson River Animal of the Month: Diamondback Terrapin

Eli’s Fish Facts: Turtle Edition!

Diamondback Terrapin

Malaclemys terrapin

Back in 2018, CURB received Chip the Diamondback Terrapin from Teatown Lake Reservation where he was being rehabilitated. Since then he has settled in nicely to his home at CURB. He is a friendly, and yes, plump, turtle, always excited to greet visitors walking up to his tank, and avidly enjoying all the snacks our staff provides.

Like other turtles, terrapins are reptiles, but unlike the rest of the turtles housed at CURB, diamondback terrapins are actually native to estuaries in New York (and elsewhere throughout the Eastern seaboard). In fact, they are believed to be the only turtle in the world that lives exclusively in brackish tidal waters. They have very sturdy legs and heavily webbed feet, making them strong swimmers, able to handle the strong currents and tidal changes in their habitat.

Diamondback terrapins are objectively beautiful, from their patchy skin to their diamond-shaped scutes (the plates that make up their shell). Amazingly, no two terrapin’s shell patterns are alike, making their carapace similar to a human’s fingerprint! Check out the video below for an up close look at Chip and some of CURB’s other resident turtles.

Meet the Turtles