Turtles have been inhabiting this earth even before the first human walked on it; they are around since the dinosaur era.
They are the oldest living creatures on our planet. The earliest turtles are dated as far back as 215 million years.
Fossils from as far as 180 million years ago have been found all over the world.
Back then, their bodies were a little larger, and surprisingly, they had small teeth as opposed to turtles of today who have no teeth.
In the ancient era, the earth was globally warm, and the turtles or terrapins of present times still find comfort in a warm climate and fail to survive in colder conditions.
Today, they are found almost all over the world, except in Antarctica and the Arctic, and more in the tropical regions where the warm climate is conducive to their breeding. If you are keeping a terrapin in an aquarium, try to main a temperature of around 24-28°C.
The female terrapin lays eggs between April to July in the sand above the line of high tide. She normally lays eggs once a year; twice at times. The size of the clutch varies from 4 to 18 oblong-shaped pinkish-white eggs. The incubation periods are temperature dependent and differ from 61 to 104 days.
The young “hatchlings” are about one inch long and weigh between 6 to 10 g. The nest temperature determines what gender the hatchlings are. The warmer the nest is, the higher will be the number of female terrapins. They grow to about 10 to 12 inches in length.
Their life expectancy averages 15 to 20 years under the right conditions, and may cross 30 years, depending on the species they belong to. So one should be prepared to take care of a pet that has a longer life than most other pets.
The terrapins take about three to eight years to attain full maturity. Female terrapins are larger than males. One should have knowledge of the speed at which they grow when deciding to keep it as a pet.
They may weigh 100g and be 2cm in length across the shell when one buys it, but at four years they could be 2kg and 25cm, respectively.
One can roughly estimate the age of a terrapin by counting growth rings that appear on the scutes of the plastron and carapace.
As the terrapin ages, its growth rate slows down, depending on the living conditions it has been subjected to. For more terrapin facts please consult my terrapin book review.