Category Description: Common Snapping Turtle

Another Common Snapping TurtleA Category Description:  Common Snapping Turtle   The Common Snapping Turtle is a very large turtle.  Its top shell, called a carapace, generally grows to 10 – 20 inches long while the turtle can weigh 15 – 55 pounds.  Their colors are usually dull brown to black with a large head and hooked jaw.  They have webbed feet with long claws and a very long tail.  Although they ambush prey underwater during the day, snapping turtles are most active at night. These turtles are very shy in the water, but on land they can be very aggressive giving a painful bite.  Snapping turtles are believed to have evolved the ability to snap because, unlike other turtles, they are too large to hide in their shells when confronted.  Snapping is their defense mechanism.  Snapping turtles will bite humans if threatened, but only as a last resort.  A wild turtle can bite even if picked up by the sides of its shell.  The turtle will try to scare off threats by hissing before it bites.  When stressed, they can also release a foul, musky odor from a gland on the underside of their body.  And, they should not be picked up by their tails since it can damage the turtle’s vertebral column and tail.

They can live 12 – 40 years in muddy lakes and ponds as well as in slow-moving rivers where they eat a large variety of: aquatic plants, fish, frogs and tadpoles, salamanders, insects, snails, leeches, worms, snakes, small mammals, and baby ducks and goslings.  In May or June, Snapping Turtles lay 20-40 eggs, each the size of a ping-pong ball.  The eggs hatch in early autumn.  The eggs and babies are often eaten by predators including: herons, hawks, crows, large fish, raccoons, snakes, and larger turtles.  Although some do not hibernate because these turtles tend to be very cold tolerate, most northern Snapping Turtles hibernate in the winter.  Hibernating snapping turtles do not sometimes breath for more than six month if ice covers their hibernating site.  These turtles can get oxygen by pushing their head out of the mud and allowing gas exchange to take place through the membranes of their mouth and throat.