Common Snapping Turtle

Common Snapping Turtle
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  • Item #: CST

Scientific NameChelydra serpentina serpentina

Identification:  The dull, rough carapace or upper shell is tan, brown, black or olive gray with three ridges, called keels. The marginal scutes are serrated and it has a proportionately huge and sinister looking head, and a long, fleshy tail, with an alligator-like crest. The plastron, or flat belly portion of the shell, is insignificantly small and narrow and affords comparatively no protection.

Range: These turtles are found in the stretch from the southwestern part of Rocky Mountains to the eastern coast of Florida and Nova Scotia, till northeast Mexico. As it is very widely seen in almost all water bodies in this vast area, thus you get the word common in their name.

Diet: Snapping turtles consume both plant and animal matter, and are important aquatic scavengers, but they are also active hunters that prey on anything they can swallow, including many invertebrates, fish, frogs, reptiles (including snakes and smaller turtles), unwary birds, and small mammals. In shallow waters they will bury themselves in the mud with only their heads exposed. These turtles have a protrusion at the end of their tongue that looks much like a worm. They hold out their tongue like a lure so that any fish can mistake it as a worm and get captured by the turtle if the fish comes too near it.

The common snapping turtle is noted for its belligerent disposition when out of the water, its powerful beak-like jaws, and highly mobile head and neck (hence the specific name serpentina, meaning "snake-like").

Snapping turtles have fierce dispositions; but when encountered in the water, they usually slip quietly away from any disturbance. Snapping turtles 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 as a last resort. The turtle will try to scare off threats by hissing before it bites. The speed at which they strike rivals that of the rattlesnake. So quick is the movement that the eye is barely able to follow it. Backed up by a pair of sharp-edged, cutting mandibles and jaw muscles of tremendous power, a snapping turtle bite may cause serious injury. The amputation of a finger by a medium-sized specimen would be an accomplishment of no difficulty.

Common snapping turtles sometimes bask—though rarely observed—by floating on the surface with only their carapaces exposed, though in the northern parts of their range, they also readily bask on fallen logs in early spring. In shallow waters, common snapping turtles may lie beneath a muddy bottom with only their heads exposed, stretching their long necks to the surface for an occasional breath (their nostrils are positioned on the very tip of the snout, effectively functioning as snorkels).

There is no safe way to pick up a Snapping Turtle. Its neck is very long and very flexible, and a wild turtle can bite its handler even if picked up by the sides of its shell. Snappers can stretch their necks back across their own carapace and to their hind feet on either side to bite. Also, their claws are sharp and capable of inflicting significant lacerations. When they feel stressed, they release a musky odor from behind their legs. It is a common misconception that common snapping turtles may be safely picked up by the tail with no harm to the animal; in fact, this has a high chance of injuring the turtle, especially the tail itself and the vertebral column.

Only hatchling snappers can be kept in a community habitat. But even that is not advisable. Snapping turtles need to be kept alone. Any snapper will eventually kill any turtle it’s size or smaller.

Price $29.00
Availability Out-of-Stock

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