At its December 2021 meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved regulation changes that will help further diamondback terrapin conservation by preventing them from being collected from the wild.
As of March 1, 2022, all collection and possession of diamondback terrapins is prohibited with the exception of scientific research with a valid permit. People who currently possess diamondback terrapins as personal pets may legally keep these animals but must obtain a no-cost Personal Possession permit by May 31, 2022.
Individuals or institutions who keep diamondback terrapins for public display, education, outreach or other similar conservation-based programs must obtain a no-cost Exhibition and Education permit. Permit guidance and application information are available at MyFWC.com/FreshwaterTurtles.
In addition to this new rule, the FWC is helping conserve terrapins by requiring all recreational blue crab traps have rigid funnel openings no larger than 2 inches by 6 inches at the narrowest point, or 2-inch by 6-inch bycatch reduction devices installed. This change, which takes effect March 1, 2023, will reduce the number of terrapins accidently captured in crab traps.
Throughout their range, diamondback terrapin populations are in decline due to habitat loss, unsustainable collection from the wild due to growing popularity in the global pet market, predation and road mortality. Because of overlapping habitat, there is also a potential for terrapins to be accidentally killed in blue crab traps.
Diamondback terrapins are medium-sized turtles that live in brackish water habitats statewide, including salt marshes, barrier islands, mangrove swamps, tidal creeks and rivers. They eat a variety of foods including snails, crabs, clams, mussels, worms, fish and plants. Five of the seven subspecies occur in Florida, three of which can be found nowhere else in the world. More information on diamondback terrapins can be found at MyFWC.com/Terrapin.
For more information on these diamondback terrapin regulation changes, visit MyFWC.com/FreshwaterTurtles.