Snapping Turtle Fun Facts

Snaping Turtle Resting in WaterThe common snapping turtle lives from Canada to Florida in streams, ponds, and estuaries. These areas have abundant aquatic vegetation for the snapping turtles to eat. Common snapping turtles have been known to congregate around areas with cover, such as under ledges and in old muskrat burrows. In the most Northern habitats of common snapping turtles, ice covers the ponds they hibernate in. For sometimes more than half a year, the turtles may not breathe and have to rely on taking oxygen from the water and burning fat and sugar for energy.

These are relatively large turtles, usually measuring somewhere between eight to 14 inches in length, with males being larger than females. The largest known common snapping turtle was almost 20 inches long. They may weigh from 10 to 35 pounds, with the largest known common snapping turtle weighing in at 75 pounds.


Close-up Snapping TurtleCommon snapping turtles are at the top of their food chain. Although they have a reputation for being dangerous and aggressive, they actually tend to be unafraid and curious. If disturbed, they will probably slip away without fighting, but if a newcomer doesn’t pose a threat, they may investigate. Common snapping turtles only go on the offensive when they are cornered while on land.



In addition to the aquatic plants they eat, common snapping turtles also prey on fish, smaller turtles, snakes, frogs, birds, and small mammals. They sometimes feed on carrion. Although they have few predators to worry about once they are fully grown, snapping turtle eggs are commonly preyed on by otters, raccoons, foxes, skunks, and raptors. To a lesser degree, these predators still are a danger to adults, though usually only in winter while the turtles hibernate.


Snapping Turtle Open MouthAs you might have guessed based on their habitat in Canada and their ability to survive being trapped under the ice, common snapping turtles are uncommonly resistant to the cold. Eggs, 20-30 per clutch, are usually laid in June and July and this means that some hatchlings emerge in late autumn or early winter. For those who hatch later, there is a chance that they will spend the winter in their nest rather than leaving. Eggs that are laid in nests of lower temperatures take longer to hatch.


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