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Snapping Turtle

Snapping Turtle Facts

Scientific NameChelydridae
Size47-80cm (18.5-31in)
Weight16-136kg (35-300lbs)
Top Speed4km/h (2.4mph)
Life Span20-32 years
Conservation StatusThreatened
ColourBrown, Tan, Black
Skin TypeScales
Favourite FoodFish
HabitatSlow rivers, lakes and marshland
Average Litter Size35
Main PreyFish, Birds, Frogs
PredatorsHuman, Raccoon, Alligator
Special FeaturesPowerful legs and strong jaw

Snapping Turtle Location

Map of Snapping Turtle Locations

Snapping Turtle

Snapping turtles are large aquatic freshwater reptiles that only live in North America. There are only two species of snapping turtle that still exist, which are the Common Snapping Turtle and the Alligator Snapping Turtle. The Common Snapping Turtle tends to live at higher latitudes than the Alligator.

Snapping turtles enjoy a wide variety of food and are often considered the top predator in their environment. The alligator snapping turtle's diet consists mainly of fish, which they lure using a pink worm-like appendage on the end of their tongue. Common snapping turtles are more active hunters and will eat just about anything.

Snapping turtles do not make good pets, usually, as they will never stop growing. The largest snapping turtles on record have weight records of around 600 lbs. Alligator snapping turtles have been known to grow even larger.

The Snapping turtle's main defence mechanism is their powerful snapping jaws, which enable them to make short work of attackers and small prey. They also have monstrous, thick claws on their front and back legs which they use to tear apart food and to climb hills each year where they lay their eggs (in a similar way to sea turtles).

The alligator snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in North America, where it is generally found in the more southern waters of the United States. The smaller and more aggressive common snapping turtle inhabits lakes and streams from South America to Canada.

Snapping turtles spend nearly all of their lives in water, with typically only nesting females actually venturing onto open land. Snapping turtles can remain submerged underwater for up to three hours at a time.

Alligator snapping turtles and common snapping turtles have a very different looking appearances. The alligator snapping turtle has a long head and almost spiky shell, where the common snapping turtle has a more rounded head and a smoother shell. They are also easily distinguished by size as the common snapping turtle is smaller than the alligator snapping turtle.

Snapping turtle mating takes place once a year generally in the spring time. The female snapping turtle can lay anywhere from 10 to 50 eggs which take 3 or 4 months to hatch. It is thought that snapping turtles are capable of living until they are 150 years old but they typically live until they are between 20 and 50 years old in captivity.