Snapping Turtle Animal Facts

Snapping Turtle

The snapping turtle, also known as the snake like turtle is a large freshwater turtle that has powerful beak like jaws with a highly mobile head and neck. This snake like turtle has a rugged muscular build but the male ones are much larger than the female turtles. It has a ridged upper shell which can be black or brown depending on the turtle. These turtles can be found in the southeastern part of Canada, Nova Scotia, and Florida. They can be found in rivers, lakes, marshes, shallow ponds and streams.

Types of Snapping turtles

There are two types of snapping turtles which are the common turtle and the alligator snapping turtle. Both species can live up to 30 years and those held captive can live up to 50 years. They have shells that can grow to 20 inches in length. The alligator turtle has ridges that are more pronounced than the common snapping turtle. The average weight of both snapping turtles can get up to 35 pounds. The largest snapping turtle is the alligator turtle which weighs about 249 pounds. The major differences between a common turtle and an alligator snapping turtle are that, the alligator turtle has a restricted natural range. The alligator turtles like deep water that moves a lot although you can spot them in lakes. Common snapping turtles eat a lot more vegetation than the alligator turtles. The alligator turtles prefers to eat other animals, in fact these turtles are opportunistic feeders  that prefer consuming live and dead matter and in some cases, larger alligator turtles sometimes eat smaller snapping turtles.

Habitat

Snapping turtles live in temperate climates which are not too cold or too hot but there are some that live in Canada where it gets really cold. The ones that live in the cold area hibernate during the cold month. They bury themselves in the mud until it becomes warm again. Snapping turtles can be found in streams, lakes, rivers, ponds and various other water bodies and they spend a lot of their time in water except during the mating season. Their strong legs and webbed feet make them great swimmers.

Behaviour

The snapping turtle spends most of its time in water, and it is mostly active at dawn and dusk when it needs to go for hunting. The snapping turtle buries itself in the mud whilst exposing its nostrils and eyes. Sometimes the turtle basks in the sun with only the top shell exposed by floating on the surface. They also bask on logs during spring. There are some that lie on below a muddy bottom whilst their heads are exposed stretching their long necks. When it comes to the food chain in their environment, snapping turtles are on top. As such, they do not fear much and they are not too aggressive. When approached by something unfamiliar, the snapping turtle may bump its nose on the object, animal, or person out of curiosity. When approached in water they swim quietly away from any disturbance or seek shelter under mud or grass.

The mating season for snapping turtle is 8 months. The male turtles uses its sense of smell in order to find a female to mate with. These turtles communicate with one another using leg movements. After a few weeks, a pregnant female turtle digs up a hole on the sandy shore using her legs and claws and lays her eggs there. The female turtle lays up to 80 eggs and these hatch in about 80 to 90 days. Snapping turtles lay a lot of eggs since a lot of the young do not make it into adulthood. This is because as soon as the female lays its eggs it goes back into the water soon after and leaves the eggs alone. The eggs have no protection against predators except being buried in the sand which is their only protection. As a result, some eggs do not hatch, others are eaten by other animals and some hatchlings do not make it adulthood. The adult turtles are not very caring because even after some hatchlings make it, they are left to fend for themselves.

Nutrition

Snapping turtles are omnivores, they eat both plant and animal matter. These animals are aquatic scavengers that prey on anything they can swallow such as invertebrates, fish, frogs, reptiles, as well as snakes, birds and small mammals. An interesting fact about snapping turtles, specifically the alligator turtle  is that it attracts fish with an oral lure. The alligator turtle wiggles its tongue which to fish, appears like a worm. It does this by hiding in vegetation. When fish approach the turtles quickly grabs them. In addition, snapping turtles can feel the vibration in water that lets them know when prey is nearby. It is important to note that other turtles can be eaten by other larger turtles but these turtles in general do not have many predators. Some of the predators are human beings and alligators. Turtle eggs on the other hand are vulnerable, they can be eaten by raccoons, skunks, and snakes.

They Can Bite Off A Human Finger

A snapping turtle has strong jaws, and very sharp claws that can hurt you. When on land, a snapping turtle will feel more threatened than when it is in water. So it is best to avoid a snapping turtle on land. There are accounts of people who have had their fingers bitten off by snapping turtles. However, these turtles like to stay away from people so getting your finger bitten off is rare unless you provoke the snapping turtle. It is not advisable to pick one up, but if you want to do so you can move behind the snapping turtle and safely put your hands near the back of its shell to pick it up. As you do so, make sure that its head is away from you at all times. Never try to pick up a snapping turtle by its tail because it will injure it.

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