Northern Diamondback Terrapin

(Malaclemys terrapin)

Kids parties - birthday parties - kids party ideas

Common Name: Northern Diamondback Terrapin

Scientific Name: Malaclemys terrapin

Reptiles Alive Name: Terrapin Station

Hisssstory: Unwanted Pet

RA Diet: Crickets, meal worms, and special terrapin pellets.

Natural Diet: Adult terrapins primarily eat mollusks and crustaceans, including snails, fiddler crabs, and mussels. They also eat blue crabs, green crabs, marine worms, fish, and carrion.

Range: Northern diamondbacks range from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Terrapins are found nearby in the Chesapeake Bay and the brackish bays near Ocean City MD and Chincoteague VA.

Habitat: Northern diamondback terrapins live in coastal salt marshes, estuaries, tidal creeks and ditches with brackish water (a mix of both salt and freshwater) which is bordered by spartina grass. They are the only turtle in the world that is specially adapted to spend its entire life in this type of water. One of the largest bodies of brackish water is less than 100 miles from Washington, DC, the Chesapeake Bay!

Size: The northern diamondback terrapin is a medium-sized turtle that varies in length from only 4 to 5.5” in males to 6 to 9” in females.

Lifespan: 25-30 years.

Reproduction: Adult terrapins mate in early spring. Females lay 8-12 eggs from early June into mid-July in sandy beaches and other upland gravel areas that are above the high tide line. The eggs hatch in 61-104 days. The sex of the hatchlings is determined by the temperature of the soil, the warmer the soil, the more females that are produced. This is known as temperature sex determination (TSD). Crocodilians also have TSD!

Conservation: Habitat loss, being drowned in crab traps, being hit by cars, development, and poaching all pose major threats to the diamond back terrapin. Artificial sea walls restrict their natural movement and roads and mosquito ditches have altered the tidal flow on our salt marshes. Females are drawn to road shoulders because they mimic natural nest sites and in turn many are hit-by-car and killed each year while attempting to nest.

Cool Facts: Terrapins are cold-blooded or ectothermic, but do not migrate to warmer climates in the winter. They hibernate during the winter by burying themselves at the bottom of or in the banks of creeks and ditches. They always have some mud covering them to act as insulation from the cold winter air.
The Maryland state reptile is the Northern Diamondback Terrapin and the University of Maryland’s mascot is Testudo the Terrapin!. Go Terps!

“Children were held spellbound despite the last day of school!” – Jo Ellen Frasch, Teacher at Oak Hill Elementary



Phone: (703) 560-0257
Fax: (703) 560-7531

Sign up for Reptiles Alive Emails

* = required field


  1. Leesburg Flower & Garden Festival Reptiles Alive Show

    April 21 @ 11:00 am - 11:45 am
  2. Mason Neck State Park Eagle Festival

    May 12 @ 11:15 am - 5:00 pm
We had a great experience with Reptiles Alive for my daughter’s 6th birthday party. Rachel arrived exactly on time, set up quickly, and immediately engaged the group of curious children. We had an impromptu dance party while waiting for last minute guests and Rachel was very accommodating. The children LOVED the show!! And my soon-to-be 11 year old wants them to come for his birthday! I highly recommend Reptiles Alive for your next event!read more

Kelly Maguire

Kelly Maguire

22:57 12 Mar 18

We just had Reptiles Alive come to our preschool and the kids loved it!! We had 4 shows over 2 days to accommodate all our children and everything went great! Caroline was very easy to work with and quick to respond to all my emails. She was our presenter too and was early each day and ready to go when the kids arrived. She really geared her show towards our audience (2-5yr olds) and had them laughing and answering her questions and touching the animals. It was perfect… we would definitely book them again!!read more

Lauren Dolinski

Lauren Dolinski

20:47 01 Mar 18

We booked Reptiles Alive for our son’s 7th birthday party. Miss Rachel put on an amazing show for the 20 kids we had over. The highlight was when my son and I had the chance to hold a long and surprisingly heavy boa constrictor named Sunflower. The show was both educational and fun for the kids, and it kept them captivated for a full hour – priceless!!read more

Rick Jandrain

Rick Jandrain

01:53 06 Feb 18

Rachel is an awesome instructor and very good with many kids. The reptiles were fascinating. This was a great birthday party for my daughter and her second grade more

Robert McKeon

Robert McKeon

23:26 26 Feb 18

We invited Reptiles Alive for our birthday party. Ms. Rachel did a wonderful job to educate the kids about the fun facts of Reptiles and also kept them entertained and focused. It’s not a easy job facing a bunch of 7-year-old boys and 3-year-old preschoolers. We highly recommend Reptiles Alive show. It’s fun and full of knowledge!read more

Tianchan Niu

Tianchan Niu

22:09 17 Dec 17