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Diamond Back Terrapins


Note: This is not a turtle for beginners as the setup requires
considerable effort.


What a beautiful turtle you must have!
I have never had a diamond back myself, but here is what I know:

* Diamond backs live usually in brackish water, like coastal
  marshes, tidal flats, and such. 
  They are found exclusively in estuaries, though I'm sure the 
  odd one will venture quite far up stream - on occassion.  
  There are some interesting studies out there that show that the greatest 
  numbers of terrapins are found where the salinity is above 50% sea water (or 17ppt), 
  as that is where the greatest volume of their foods of choice are 
  found.  

* Males get about 10-14cm, females 15-23cm--that is 4-6 inches for
  males and 6-10inches for females. Which makes it a pleasantly small
  turtle. You won't need a 100 gallon tank in a few years.

* Diamondbacks are almost completely carnivorous. In the wild they
  are scavengers but will not pass up a live morsel. The following
  has been found to be eaten by wild animals: snails, crabs, shells,
  and some other marine animals. Captives can be fed: chopped fish,
  crabs, snails, oysters, clams, insects, marine annelids, and some
  beef. -- I would also try earthworms and pellets; it would make
  your life easier, if the turtle took those at least occasionally.

* Occurs along the all along the Atlantic coast from Cape Cod to
  Texas and the Florida Keys. There are 7 subscpecies.

* Latin name is Malaclemys.

* I got most of this information from:
  "Turtles of the World" by carl H. Ernst, ISBN 1-56098-212-8

Setup: (Thank you Jared Purdy for this information!)
	If you are going to be keeping terrapins, you must adopt a "husbandry" attitude that 
	leans strongly towards recreating (as closely as possible) the water 
	conditions that are natural to this species.  That means you should purchase a 
	hydrometer, a cylinder to view the hydrometer, and marine salt from a fish store.  
	Changes in PH, KH and salinity have a considerable affect on this animal.  
	The most common affects are serious dermal and shell infections.  
	This species has adapted to a high saline environment, which is also characterized 
	by a high PH (8.2~) and a high KH (hard water - mineral rich, like marine water).  
	Changing these characteristics affects osmotic pressure within the species 
	and can result in infections.  
	Cleanliness is next to Godliness with diamond backs - filtration is a must!

	(Thank you Lori)   
	I put salt in all my tanks but my diamondbacks have a bit more. When they 
	are really young I only put a tiny amount because in nature that is the way 
	they do it. Once they get older I increase the amount of salt I use but what 
	you have to remember is that they drink fresh water so you have to give them 
	clean fresh water to drink everyday.


Here is a bit more:

Check out the Audubon Guide on North American Reptiles and Amphibians
for information on species, sub-species, distribution, breeding, and such. They
have a good article which is too long for me to type in. You should also be able
to find more info on your state reptile at the local library. Here is a 
summary with focus on suggested husbandry. My additional source is "Turtles of
the World" by Carl H. Ernst.

Females grow to 10 inches, males to 6 inches.
Natural habitat is brackisch water, coastal marshes, tidal flats, coves,
estuaries, and lagoons behind barrier beaches. 
==> Don't be shy about adding a bit of salt to the water as suggested in the
    car sheet. It will help keep the turtle healthy, and he won't mind. Try
    1 teaspoon per gallon of water.

Turtle will hibernate in the North, not in the South.
==> You don't have to hibernate him.
==> Hardy animal, will tolerate relatively wide spectrum of environments.
==> Use a generic setup as described in care sheet. It will be fine.
    Probably doesn't need to be kept as warm as a slider. Don't let
    temperature of water drop below 70F in average. You can keep him
    outdoors in summer. He'd like that.

Food: probably a scavenger but also likes live food in wild. 
Found in stomach have been snails, fiddler and other crabs, marine
anelids, and a bit of marsh plants, clam leftovers. Captives can
be fed on chopped fish, crabs, snails, oysters, clams, insects, 
marine annelids, and a little lean beef. Don't expect your turtle
to eat veggies, but try to give him some dry food (since in the wild,
he does accidentially ingest plants and algae for a balanced diet).
I would also not feed beef but cat/dog food once a week for the vitamins.
Diamondbacks can handle the salt in ocean fish and crabs. Feed snails
and shrimp with the shell.

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