New Yorkterrapins

It's Terrapin Time! 5 Fun Terrapin Facts

Eva Niessner

It's Terrapin Time! 5 Fun Terrapin Facts

Most Marylanders are probably familiar with the concept of the terrapin. Maybe you're a fan of the UMD teams of the same name, which feature a fierce terrapin mascot. Or maybe you've seen one of these fascinating animals in your own backyard! But how much do you know about terrapins? Let's take a closer look at this reptile and appreciate how cool it truly is. 

1. Not all creatures called 'terrapins' are closely related

There are a lot of animals with 'terrapin' in their names, and they live all over the world. So they all must be nearly the same...right? Well, not so fast. In fact, while they're all turtles, they may not be in the same family of turtles, and they're definitely not all the same species. The terrapin species that we recognize as the Maryland mascot is a local one, the diamondback terrapin (that's where the name of the UMD school paper comes from!). 

2. Diamondback terrapins were almost hunted to extinction for their meat

Would you eat terrapin for dinner? You may think that turtle meat is too strange to consider, but it used to be a common dish in Maryland. Turtle soup and 'Terrapin a la Maryland' stew were popular because the diamondback terrapins were plentiful. But as human activities like hunting and habitat destruction reduced their numbers, terrapins become less commonly served. 

3. Terrapins have disrupted air traffic

Could a terrapin stop a plane? Absolutely. When terrapins have somewhere to be, they get going, even if they're in the path of an airplane. More than 75 diamondback terrapins crossed the runway at JFK airport in New York in 2009, leading to a delay so they could be removed and returned to the wild. 

4. These critters can live in salt and fresh water

Diamondback terrapins prefer brackish water -- water that is neither fully salt nor fresh. But they can get along in freshwater and salt water, making them versatile turtles. If you want to find one in Maryland, head to the Chesapeake Bay's tidal waters. During the winter, they tend to power down until warm weather returns, so you probably won't see many if you go looking right now!  

5. Testudo, the terrapin mascot of UMD, has a rich history of his own

The diamondback terrapin isn't just the state reptile of Maryland; it's the mascot of UMD! We call him Testudo, though we're not completely sure where the name came from. According to UMD itself, it may come from the scientific word for turtles. Testudo was honored with a statue, which has had its highs and lows -- it's been stolen by other schools and defaced, but UMD students honor the turtle with nose rubs and gifts in exchange for good grades during finals. 

Leave a reply

Latest articles

6 Fascinating Facts about Butterflies

04/28/22

6 Fascinating Facts about Butterflies

One of our favorite signs that warm weather and blooming flowers are coming soon is seeing a butterfly! Butterflies are beautiful and helpful little creatures that come in every size,...

read more
Prep for Preakness With These Products

05/16/22

Prep for Preakness With These Products

The Preakness Stakes are coming up fast! Next week, Baltimore will be buzzing with excitement as the thoroughbreds race for the wreath of Black-Eyed Susans. Whether you're planning to attend...

read more
OCEAN CITY
12 Fun Facts About OC, MD

05/16/22

12 Fun Facts About OC, MD

We know it. We love it. It's Ocean City, Maryland! Chances are, you've got memories of this iconic beach town from your childhood. But we've got a few fun facts...

read more
MEMORIAL DAY
Here are 12 Fun Ways to Spend Memorial Day Weekend in MD

05/16/22

Here are 12 Fun Ways to Spend Memoria...

Memorial Day is coming up fast, Marylanders! Did it sneak up on you? Even if you don't have plans yet, there's no need to fear. We've got a dozen ideas...

read more
SEAFOOD
Dining on the Water in MD: Try these 6 Spots

05/16/22

Dining on the Water in MD: Try these ...

One of the best things about Maryland is that you're never far from the water! This summer, why not treat yourself to a delicious meal right by the waterside? Here...

read more
MEMORIAL DAY
Support These 5 Veteran Nonprofits This Memorial Day

05/26/22

Support These 5 Veteran Nonprofits Th...

It's important to remember that Memorial Day isn't just about grilling hamburgers and visiting the beach. Memorial Day was created to honor those who died in US military service --...

read more
CLOTHES
Our Domino Sugar Collab is Super Sweet!

05/16/22

Our Domino Sugar Collab is Super Sweet!

There's something awfully sweet about the pride that Baltimore has in the Domino Sugar company! Last year, the iconic sign made its way back to the Baltimore skyline, and we...

read more
Madame Maryland's Horoscope: June 2022

05/25/22

Madame Maryland's Horoscope: June 2022

June is here, and summer has fully arrived! We're all looking forward to long, warm days and time spent with friends and family. If you're wondering what June has in...

read more
HOME
Cool Down With A Lemon Stick

05/25/22

Cool Down With A Lemon Stick

Close your eyes. Picture a tasty, minty, sour, refreshing, summery treat that will make you feel a million times better when the weather here in Maryland is sticky and gross....

read more