CROW CAWS: Diamondback Terrapin Eggs

Diamondback Terrapins are medium-sized subaquatic turtles found in brackish water throughout Florida. There are five subspecies, three of which are endemic to (only found in) Florida. Diamondback Terrapins are listed as a vulnerable species, meaning they are at risk of becoming threatened or extinct due to habitat loss, road mortality, predation, and crab traps. Terrapins can live up to 40 years in captivity and 25 years in the wild.

This Diamondback Terrapin (24-2246) was admitted with no finder history provided. Upon admission, the Terrapin had significant spinal trauma and a large fracture on its carapace (back of shell). The patient was unresponsive, and it had a bradycardic (slow or abnormal) heart rate. X-rays revealed the Terrapin was carrying 8 eggs!

While the Terrapin was unable to survive its injuries, staff were able to successfully harvest the eggs to incubate them at our clinic! The incubation period for these turtle eggs is 60-85 days. Since turtles and tortoises are not maternal animals and do not care for their young after they hatch. Once the eggs hatch, staff will monitor the hatchlings to ensure their egg yolk is absorbed properly and then they will be cleared for release. CROW will coordinate with Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) to locate an ideal habitat to release the hatchlings. Diamondback Terrapins’ ideal habitats are brackish coastal tidal marshes, mangrove swamps, estuaries, lagoons, and tidal creeks.

Turtles may travel a far distance away from water to lay their eggs. This often requires them to cross busy roadways. If you see a turtle crossing the road, and it is safe to help them, please place them on the other side of the road in the direction they are headed. If you come across a turtle laying eggs, please give them space and let them finish laying the nest. Please refrain from disrupting the nest or attempting to move it to give these turtles the best chance of successfully hatching!


CROW Case of the Week stories are written by Ali Reece and appear weekly in the Santiva Chronicle. Click HERE.