Animals

Snapping Turtle Facts

Read common snapping turtle facts and find more about them.
Share
Tweet

Snapping turtles are one of the species that is found in freshwater who are known for their size and aggression. They are dark in color and are known to have rough shells, with a large head, hooked jaws and a long tail. The common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) can be found in lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams that have muddy bottoms, providing them with abundant vegetation that helps them to hide efficiently. They are also known as common snapping turtle or alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) due to their aggressive behavior and dangerous snapping turtle bite.

The common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) gets its name from the fact that they have a smaller bottom shell which does not let the whole huge body of these turtles hide inside their shell, and so they snap when they sense danger or have to protect themselves. Let’s have a look at some of the interesting facts and learn how to identify common snapping turtles.

Snapping Turtle

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Plants, insects, spiders, worms, fish

What do they eat?

Omnivores

Average litter size?

30-35

How much do they weigh?

10-35 lb

How long are they?

8-14 lb

How tall are they?

N/A

What do they look like?

Brown, black or tan colored, spiked shell, beak-like jaws, thick scaly tail

Skin Type

Scales

What are their main threats?

Hunting and poaching

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Wetlands, ponds and ditches

Locations

North America, Central America, South America, New England

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Reptilia

Scientific Name

Chelydra serpentina

Family

Chelydridae

Genus

Chelydra

Snapping Turtle Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a snapping turtle?

Common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) is a kind or species of turtle that belongs to the Chelydridae and is known for eating varied things, including plants, birds, and many more making them omnivorous reptiles.

What class of animal does a snapping turtle belong to?

Common snapping turtles are one of the most common and well-known members of the class of reptiles (that are cold blooded reptiles) and have special skin type of scales.

How many snapping turtles are there in the world?

Common snapping turtles are known to have haunted the areas of North America since millions of years ago. It is practically impossible to identify the total number of snapping turtles found in the world. But the only thing that can be said is that common snapping turtles have been declared as having the least concern and are nowhere near the road to being extinct. They reproduce really fast and have great numbers, keeping their population intact.

Where does a snapping turtle live?

Snapping turtles habitat includes wetlands including marsh and swamp lands and also found in water bodies that are temperate and have fresh water. They are also found in rivers, ponds, lakes, and streams that strictly have fresh water. The dark brown upper shell offers them considerable protection against predators. Though, some of these animals have their habitat in brackish water as well.

What is a snapping turtle's habitat?

A snapping turtle is usually found in areas of United States, South America, and Central America stretching east from S. Alberta to North in Nova Scotia, extending south to the Gulf of Mexico into Central Texas. They prefer both fresh water and brackish water muddy bottoms that help them hide easily.

Who do snapping turtles live with?

Snapping turtles are among the nonsocial creatures that are solitary and prefer not to associate or live with other turtles in the wild. Even though many turtles would be found living in a particular area, they prefer living alone. Their social interactions are limited to displaying aggression among them.

How long does a snapping turtle live?

Snapping turtles are most threatened by poaching and hunting and are usually killed by predators or cars that are seen near lakes or ponds. A snapping turtle has a lifespan of around 30 years in the wild, as when they reach a certain size, they become more prone to being preyed on by some predators. In contrast, their lifespan can extend to almost 47 years when held in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

Snapping turtles start the mating process once a female turtle has fully matured. A female turtle lays around 30-35 eggs and hides them under sand. The eggs hatch after a period ranging between 70-90 days. A snapping turtle baby is quite an adorable sight.

What is their conservation status?

Snapping turtles are nowhere near being extinct. They are completely under the category of Least Concern as declared by IUCN. They reproduce really fast and have a longer lifespan which keeps their population almost intact. Still efforts for preservation of turtle populations in freshwater bodies are being organized in the United States.

Snapping Turtle Fun Facts

What do snapping turtles look like?

How to identify turtles? The giant snapping turtle is a really huge species. They have a shell length around 8-18 in and also have a long tail that is as long as the shell. They are usually dark brown colored in appearance. Males have longer tails than females. They have characteristic tubercles on their neck and legs that can be distinguished and have very small plastrons that leave most of the extremities exposed. Their upper shell with three rows of carapace keels ranges in color from tan to black, and their head is darker while their neck, tails, and legs have a yellowish color.

Snapping turtles have a shell around them.

How cute are they?

They are cute and docile animals until they are in water and will not harm you until they feel vulnerable or provoked. They can be really vicious or dangerous when they are pulled out of water or on land. Their shells with three rows of carapace keels give them an exotic appearance.

How do they communicate?

Snapping turtles are not very social creatures that communicate through their leg movements while facing each other. They also have a strong sense of smell, vision, or touch that helps them find and identify their prey while on land, and they can also sense vibrations in case of water.

How big is a snapping turtle?

Snapping turtles have bilaterally symmetrical bodies that weigh around 9-35 lb whereas they have a length of around 8-18 in. But there are extreme cases of these snapping turtles, and they are known to grow really big to be almost half the size of a full-grown human.

How fast can a snapping turtle swim?

Normal turtles can swim at a speed of 5.8 mph, whereas snapping turtles can swim up to a speed of 22 mph if they sense any danger or get frightened or feel vulnerable.

How much does a snapping turtle weigh?

Snapping turtles have three different species, among which the alligator snapping turtle is known for its huge size and weight. They can be as heavy as around 35 lb.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names given to the male and female species of snapping turtles. They are generally regarded as male snapping turtle and ‘female snapping turtle’. The male turtle's weight is almost 10 lb heavier than females.

What would you call a baby snapping turtle?

They are called baby snapping turtles.

What do they eat?

Snapping turtles are really vicious creatures and will prey on anything and everything that can fit their jaw. They are omnivorous creatures that feed on fishes, small mammals, birds, amphibians, invertebrates, with their powerful jaws. Their favorite diet is birds, and they are also known to prey on other turtles, encouraged by the portrayal of their territorial supremacy.

Are they dangerous?

Snapping turtles are not usually dangerous, but it is suggested for humans to stay away from them. They are rather docile until they are provoked or feel vulnerable. They are really nice when kept in water but can show vicious behavior once they are pulled out of water.

Would they make a good pet?

Snapping turtles in North America are really anti-social creatures that usually stay underwater for most of their lives. They also keep their safe distance from humans and are known to attack humans if they try to touch them.

Did you know...

Take a look at some of the most interesting facts about snapping turtles that will help you know a lot more about these species of turtles.

The common snapping turtle has been regarded as the state official reptile of New York since 2006.

An alligator snapping turtle is one of the species of snapping turtles that are really huge and are given the title of biggest freshwater turtle around the world, largest being as heavy as 249 pounds.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is not to get bitten by the common snapping turtle. They are known to exert a force of 209 N on average while biting. One of the biggest species, alligator snapping turtles are known to be able to slice your fingers off.

Female snapping turtles can store their sperm for almost three years.

How to pick up a snapping turtle?

As we have already seen, snapping turtles can bite you, and that is something you would not want to experience. So one of the main precautions to take while picking up a snapping turtle is that you must not place your hand anywhere near their mouth to give them a chance to bite you. Another thing is never to hold a snapping turtle by its tail as it can permanently damage or dislocate its vertebrae. The safest and nicest way to pick or hold a snapping turtle is by sliding both hands on the hind end of the shell and letting the tail free, and clasping its carapace with both of your thumbs.

How long does it take for a snapping turtle egg to hatch?

The eggs of snapping turtles are laid in nests that are buried under the ground. The hatching of turtle eggs depends on the temperature and environment conditions. They usually take around 80-90 days for the eggs to hatch (roughly three to six months) based on the weather.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our turtle coloring pages.

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.

Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.

Sponsorship & Advertising Policy

Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.

We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.

Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.

We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.

Read our Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Get The Kidadl Newsletter

1,000 of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

Thank you! Your newsletter will be with you soon.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
No items found.
No items found.