Snapping Turtle


Snapping Turtle
Chelydra serpentina

Also Known As: Common Snapper

Conservation Status: Vulnerable

Size: 8 to 18 1/2″

Range: Southern Alberta to Nova Scotia and south to the Gulf of Mexico

Habitat: Freshwater with soft mud bottoms and abundant vegetation. Some live in brackish waters.

Diet: Primarily carnivorous. Eats mainly invertebrates, carrion, aquatic plants, fish, birds, and small mammals

Breeding: Mating season is from April to November; lays 25-50 eggs in a 4-7″ cavity. Eggs hatch in 9-18 weeks. Females may retain sperm for later use, sometimes up to years.

Nesting: Females migrate to sandy, sunny nesting sites. They excavate a 4-7″ cavity in which to lay their eggs.

Warnings: Snapping turtles have powerful jaws and can inflict a serious bite if provoked or startled.

Description & Behavior
Snapping turtles have shells ranging from 8″ to 20″ long. The snapping turtle’s tail is nearly as long as its shell and has saw-toothed ridges on it. The tail, as well as the neck and legs, are yellowish in color. The snapping turtle’s head is dark in color, while the upper shell can range in color from black to dark brown to tan. The snapping turtle has tubercles, or small, rounded growths, on its neck and legs. The plastron, or armor plating on the upper part of the front torso, is very small and can leave the snapping turtle’s extremities exposed. Snapping turtles, even small individuals, are very strong and possess a serious, dangerous bite.