DIAMONDBACK TERRAPIN

Our newest natural area in Virginia Beach is an ideal habitat for Diamondback Terrapin and we have been lucky enough to see many of the nesting mothers and the young terrapin this spring and summer.

The Diamondback Terrapin is named for the diamond-shaped growth rings on its top shell and can be found along the Atlantic Coast of the U.S. from Cape Cod to the Florida Keys and west along the Gulf Coast to Texas.

Diamondback TerrapinDiamondback terrapin eat fish, snails, worms, clams, crabs and marsh plants. They are believed to be the only turtle in the world that lives exclusively in brackish water. Most terrapins hibernate during the winter by burrowing into the mud of marshes. Although diamondback terrapins live in tidal marshes, their preferred nesting sites are sandy beaches. This combination makes Pleasure House Point the perfect habitat for the diamondback terrapin.

Mating Season: May through July

Gestation: Around 60 days

Clutch size: 8-12 eggs

The hatchlings emerge from August to October and are completely on their own. Only 1% to 3% of the eggs laid produce a hatchling, and the number of hatchlings that survive to adulthood is believed to be similarly low. This in one reason why it is so important that we protect their nesting sites.

After hatching, some young remain in the nest during the winter although most emerge and enter the nearest body of water. For our babies, this is Pleasure House Creek.

The remains of the terrapin eggs can be seen in late summer and fall along the trails at Pleasure House Point.

Thank you for

  • keeping your dogs on a leash,
  • installing turtle excluders on your crab pots,
  • and helping us protect the Pleasure House Point diamondback terrapins.