Snapping Turtles – What, Who, How, and Where

Do you know what snapping turtles are? Snapping turtles are a type of turtle that has the ability to snap their jaws shut with enough force to break a bone! They can also hold on tight and refuse to let go if they bite something. These fascinating creatures have existed for over 210 million years, but there is still so much we don’t know about them. In this blog post, we will explore everything you need to know about snapping turtles – from who they are and how old they live for, all the way through where you might find one in North America.

Snapping Turtles

Dietary Needs:

What do snapping turtles eat?

What does the snapping turtle eat? Great question and a fantastic spot to start this article. The snapping turtle diet consists of bugs, worms, water plants, and small fish. They are omnivores so they eat just about anything you stick in front of them, including fruits and vegetables and various forms of protein.

Occasionally snapping turtles will also eat smaller animals such as frogs or birds! In fact, If you watch a pond long enough that has snapping turtles, You will often see baby ducklings get snaped up with little more than a ripple. It’s quite sad really, But also fascinatingly brutal.

What do snapping turtles eat in captivity?

In captivity, you will feed a snapping turtle just about the same stuff as you would feed most other turtles, only in larger quantities (depending on its size).

Processed turtle foods:

Proteins:

  • Insects
  • Mallards
  • Leeches
  • Birds
  • Frogs
  • Worms
  • Nestlings
  • Tadpoles
  • Crayfish
  • Small mammals
  • Fish
  • Snails
  • Salamanders
  • Geese
  • Small turtles
  • Carrion
  • Snakes
  • Bird eggs

Greens:

  • Bog buttons
  • Hydrilla
  • Yellow pond lily
  • Bog moss
  • Water fern
  • Algae
  • Water hyacinth
  • Leaves
  • Common arrowhead
  • Mermaid weed
  • Common duckweed
  • Water lettuce

What do snapping turtles eat in the wild?

Snapping turtles will eat the same things in the wild as they would in captivity, Except instead of frozen proteins, they are usually alive. Although that can also be the case in captivity depending on the breeder/keeper. Here’s the list

Proteins:

  • Insects
  • Mallards
  • Leeches
  • Birds
  • Frogs
  • Worms
  • Nestlings
  • Tadpoles
  • Crayfish
  • Small mammals
  • Fish
  • Snails
  • Salamanders
  • Geese
  • Small turtles
  • Carrion
  • Snakes
  • Bird eggs

Greens:

  • Bog buttons
  • Hydrilla
  • Yellow pond lily
  • Bog moss
  • Water fern
  • Algae
  • Water hyacinth
  • Leaves
  • Common arrowhead
  • Mermaid weed
  • Common duckweed
  • Water lettuce

Do not overfeed snapping turtles — Turtles are prone to obesity. An adult should only be fed 2-3 times per week, while a growing hatchling should be feed at least daily. Also, be wary of underfeeding as well. It’s hard to spot until it’s too late. Just do it perfectly, it’s not hard, promise!

What should I feed my baby snapping turtle?

Baby snapping turtles eat the same things as adults, only in smaller sizes and quantities. Unlike adults, babies need to be fed every day so they grow fast, strong, and healthy.

Aside from commercial foods such as:

You should also feed them the same as adults, which you can find a list above.

What do baby snapping turtles look like?

like adults but smaller, here are some pictures:

Baby Snapping Turtle
“Baby Snapping Turtle” by John Winkelman is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Copy

Do snapping turtles have teeth?

No, snapping turtles do not have teeth. Instead, they have a beak-like mouth that’s very hard and very sharp.

Snapping turtle bite force

The turtle’s jaws can be closed very tightly, allowing them to defend themselves from predators. This strong bite is often enough to break the shell of prey such as fish and small animals like birds or rodents.

Depending on the breed of snapping turtle (Aligator vs common), the snapping turtle bite force can exceed 160 to 210 Newtons respectively. The strongest bite ever recorded was a whopping 435 Newtons of force.

158 ± 18 kgf (1,550 ± 180 N; 348 ± 40 lbf) is what’s also been reported for certain alligator snapping turtles.

Snapping turtle lifespan

alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii): The alligator snapping turtle lifespan is a whopping 100 years. They are one of the oldest and largest freshwater turtles on the planet and are very long-lived.

Common snapping turtle: The common snapping turtle lifespan is around 50 years. Once they reach a large enough adult stage, they no longer have to fear predators and can live to a ripe old age in captivity.

Unfortunately, in the wild few make it this far as they are often hit by cars while crossing the street in search of new waters and ponds to live in.

snapping turtle size

The common snapping turtle size: The carapace length in adulthood may be nearly 50 cm (20 in), though 25–47 cm (9.8–18.5 in) is more common.[4] C. serpentina usually weighs 4.5–16 kg (9.9–35.3 lb). Per one study, breeding common snapping turtles were found to average 28.5 cm (11.2 in) in carapace length, 22.5 cm (8.9 in) in plastron length, and weigh about 6 kg (13 lb).[5]

(Source)

Alligator snapping turtle size: The species generally does not grow quite that large. The breeding maturity is attained around 8 kg (18 lb) when the straight carapace length is around 33 cm (13 in), but then the species continues to grow throughout life.[15] Excluding exceptionally large specimens, adult alligator snapping turtles generally range in carapace length from 35 to 80.8 cm (13.8 to 31.8 in) and weigh from 8.4 to 80 kg (19 to 176 lb).

(Source)

Where do snapping turtles live (in the wild)?

The snapping turtle is indigenous to the Nearctic region. Their range spans from Southern Alberta and east to Nova Scotia in Canada through the Gulf of Mexico all the way to central Texas.

They enjoy slow-moving rivers and fast-moving ponds. In the northern hemisphere, they are most active from April to October and October to April in the southern hemispher. Mostly only coming out at night and dawn.

Are snapping turtles dangerous?

They can be. Snapping turtles can sometimes be aggressive if threatened or startled by humans, and sometimes they are aggressive for no reason at all. They can easily break human fingers with their massive jaw pressure and sharp beaks, although you likely won’t have your finger cut off.

How to pick up a snapping turtle without braking fingers

Pick them up by the back of their shell on the rear end. Keep away from their face. Do remember their claws are very sharp as well, and avoid getting kicked with scratched.

When do snapping turtles lay eggs?

Snapping turtles lay eggs seasonally, and will often return to the same place they laid their last clutch. This usually happens in the spring and summer months. It’s important to keep these seasonalities in mind even when your turtle is in captivity, as they will need a place to lay.

How fast do snapping turtles grow?

Snapping turtles are very slow growers and will take 15-20 years before they are even mature enough to mate.

It’s important that you house them in large tanks or better yet, entire ponds.

About

Owner of AquariumGravel.com and also owner of actual Aquarium Gravel believe it or not! ;). Setting up beautiful aquarium sceneries and habitats since I was very young. Enjoy!

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