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Common Snapping Turtle

Chelydra serpentina (Linnaeus 1758)

Brief Summary

    Common snapping turtle: Brief Summary
    provided by wikipedia

    The common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) is a large freshwater turtle of the family Chelydridae. Its natural range extends from southeastern Canada, southwest to the edge of the Rocky Mountains, as far east as Nova Scotia and Florida. The three species of Chelydra and the larger alligator snapping turtles (genus Macrochelys) are the only extant chelydrids, a family now restricted to the Americas. The common snapping turtle, as its name implies, is the most widespread.

    The common snapping turtle is noted for its combative disposition when out of the water with its powerful beak-like jaws, and highly mobile head and neck (hence the specific name serpentina, meaning "snake-like"). In water, they are likely to flee and hide themselves underwater in sediment. Snapping turtles have a life-history strategy characterized by high and variable mortality of embryos and hatchlings, delayed sexual maturity, extended adult longevity, and iteroparity (repeated reproductive events) with low reproductive success per reproductive event. Females, and presumably also males, in more northern populations mature later (at 15–20 years) and at a larger size than in more southern populations (about 12 years). Lifespan in the wild is poorly known, but long-term mark-recapture data from Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada, suggest a maximum age over 100 years.

    Brief Summary
    provided by EOL authors
    The snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentine) is primarily aquatic, inhabiting freshwater and brackish environments, although they will travel overland (DeGraaf and Rudis, 1983; Ernst and Barbour, 1972; Smith, 1961). There are two subspecies recognized in North America that are primarily distinguished by range: C. s. serpentina(the common snapping turtle, which is the largest subspecies, primarily occupies the United States east of the Rockies, except for the southern portions of Texas and Florida), and C. s. osceola (the Florida snapping turtle, found in the Florida peninsula) (Conant and Collins, 1991). In this profile, studies refer to the serpentine subspecies unless otherwise noted. Adult snapping turtles are large, 20 to 37 cm in carapace length, and males attain larger sizes than females (Congdon et al., 1986; Ernst and Barbour, 1972; Galbraith et al., 1988). In a large oligotrophic lake in Ontario Canada, adult males averaged over 10 kg, whereas the females averaged 5.2 kg (Galbraith et al., 1988). In other populations, the difference in size between males and females often is less (Congdon et al., 1986; Galbraith et al., 1988; Hammer, 1969). They reach sexual maturity at approximately 200 mm in carapace length (Mosimann and Bider, 1960). The cool, short activity season in more northern areas results in slower growth rates and longer times to reach sexual maturity (Bury, 1979). They are most often found in turbid waters with a slow current (Graves and Anderson, 1987). They spend most of their time lying on the bottom of deep pools or buried in the mud in shallow water with only their eyes and nostrils exposed. Froese (1978) observed that young snapping turtles show a preference for areas with some obstructions that may provide cover or food. Snapping turtles are omnivorous. In early spring, when limited aquatic vegetation exists in lakes and ponds, they may eat primarily animal matter; however, when aquatic vegetation becomes abundant, they become more herbivorous (Pell, 1941, cited in Graves and Anderson, 1987). Young snapping turtles are primarily carnivorous and prefer smaller streams where aquatic vegetation is less abundant (Lagler, 1943; Pell, 1941, cited in Graves and Anderson, 1987). Snapping turtles consume a wide variety of animal material including insects, crustaceans, clams, snails, earthworms, leeches, tubificid worms, freshwater sponges, fish (adults, fry, and eggs), frogs and toads, salamanders, snakes, small turtles, birds, small mammals, and carrion and plant material including various algae (Alexander, 1943; Graves and Anderson, 1987; Hammer, 1969; Punzo, 1975). Snappers are most active at night. During the day, they occasionally leave the water to bask on shore, but basking is probably restricted by intolerance to high temperatures and by rapid loss of moisture (Ernst and Barbour, 1972). Snapping turtles usually enter hibernation by late October and emerge sometime between March and May, depending on latitude and temperature. To hibernate, they burrow into the debris or mud bottom of ponds or lakes, settle beneath logs, or retreat into muskrat burrows or lodges. Snapping turtles have been seen moving on or below the ice in midwinter. Large congregations sometimes hibernate together (Budhabatti and Moll, 1988; Ernst and Barbour, 1972). Most turtles stay primarily within the same marsh or in one general area from year to year ((Hammer, 1969; Obbard and Brooks, 1981). The summer home range includes a turtle's aquatic foraging areas, but females may need to travel some distance outside of the foraging home range to find a suitable nest site (DeGraaf and Rudis, 1983).

Comprehensive Description

    Common snapping turtle
    provided by wikipedia

    The common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) is a large freshwater turtle of the family Chelydridae. Its natural range extends from southeastern Canada, southwest to the edge of the Rocky Mountains, as far east as Nova Scotia and Florida. The three species of Chelydra and the larger alligator snapping turtles (genus Macrochelys) are the only extant chelydrids, a family now restricted to the Americas. The common snapping turtle, as its name implies, is the most widespread.[2]

    The common snapping turtle is noted for its combative disposition when out of the water with its powerful beak-like jaws, and highly mobile head and neck (hence the specific name serpentina, meaning "snake-like"). In water, they are likely to flee and hide themselves underwater in sediment. Snapping turtles have a life-history strategy characterized by high and variable mortality of embryos and hatchlings, delayed sexual maturity, extended adult longevity, and iteroparity (repeated reproductive events) with low reproductive success per reproductive event. Females, and presumably also males, in more northern populations mature later (at 15–20 years) and at a larger size than in more southern populations (about 12 years). Lifespan in the wild is poorly known, but long-term mark-recapture data from Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada, suggest a maximum age over 100 years.[3]

    Anatomy and morphology

    Illustration from Holbrook's North American Herpetology, 1842

    C. serpentina has a rugged, muscular build with a ridged carapace (upper shell), although ridges tend to be more pronounced in younger individuals. 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] Males are larger than females, with almost all animals weighing in excess of 10 kg (22 lb) being male and quite old, as the species continues to grow throughout life.[6] Any specimen above the aforementioned weights is exceptional, but the heaviest wild specimen caught reportedly weighed 34 kg (75 lb). Snapping turtles kept in captivity can be quite overweight due to overfeeding and have weighed as much as 39 kg (86 lb). In the northern part of its range, the common snapping turtle is often the heaviest native freshwater turtle.[7]

    Ecology and life history

    Common habitats are shallow ponds or streams. Some may inhabit brackish environments, such as estuaries. Common snapping turtles sometimes bask—though rarely observed—by floating on the surface with only their carapaces exposed, though in the northern parts of their range, they also readily bask on fallen logs in early spring. In shallow waters, common snapping turtles may lie beneath a muddy bottom with only their heads exposed, stretching their long necks to the surface for an occasional breath (their nostrils are positioned on the very tip of the snout, effectively functioning as snorkels). Snapping turtles consume both plant and animal matter, and are important aquatic scavengers, but they are also active hunters that prey on anything they can swallow, including many invertebrates, fish, frogs, reptiles (including snakes and smaller turtles), unwary birds, and small mammals. In some areas, adult snapping turtles can be incidentally detrimental to breeding waterfowl, as they will occasionally take ducklings and goslings but their effect on such prey is frequently exaggerated.[8]

    A snapping turtle's eggs

    Common snapping turtles have few predators when older, but eggs are subject to predation by crows, mink, skunks, foxes, and raccoons. As hatchlings and juveniles, most of the same predators will attack them as well as herons (mostly great blue herons), bitterns, hawks, owls, fishers, bullfrogs, large fish, and snakes.[7] There are records during winter in Canada of hibernating adult common snapping turtles being ambushed and preyed on by northern river otters.[6] Other natural predators which have reportedly preyed on adults include coyotes, black bears, alligators and their larger cousins, alligator snapping turtles.[9] Large, old male snapping turtles have very few natural threats due to their formidable size and defenses, and tend to have a very low annual mortality rate.[6]

    These turtles travel extensively over land to reach new habitats or to lay eggs. Pollution, habitat destruction, food scarcity, overcrowding, and other factors drive snappers to move; it is quite common to find them traveling far from the nearest water source. This species mates from April through November, with their peak laying season in June and July. The female can hold sperm for several seasons, using it as necessary. Females travel over land to find sandy soil in which to lay their eggs, often some distance from the water. After digging a hole, the female typically deposits 25 to 80 eggs each year, guiding them into the nest with her hind feet and covering them with sand for incubation and protection. Incubation time is temperature-dependent, ranging from 9 to 18 weeks. In cooler climates, hatchlings overwinter in the nest. The common snapping turtle is remarkably cold-tolerant; radiotelemetry studies have shown some individuals do not hibernate, but remain active under the ice during the winter.[10] Hibernating snapping turtles do not breathe for, in the northern part of their range, more than six months since ice covers their hibernating site. These turtles can get oxygen by pushing their head out of the mud and allowing gas exchange to take place through the membranes of their mouth and throat. This is known as extrapulmonary respiration. If they cannot get enough oxygen through this method they start to utilize anaerobic pathways, burning sugars and fats without the use of oxygen. The metabolic by-products from this process are acidic and create very undesirable side effects by spring, which are known as oxygen debt.[11] Although designated as "least concern" on the IUCN redlist, the species has been designated in the Canadian part of its range as "Special Concern" due to its life history being sensitive to disruption by anthropogenic activity.[12]

    Systematics and taxonomy

    Currently, no subspecies of the common snapping turtle are recognized.[13] The former subspecies osceola is currently considered a synonym of serpentina, while the other former subspecies Chelydra rossignonii[14] and Chelydra acutirostris are both recognized as full species.[13][15]


    In their environment, they are at the top of the food chain, causing them to feel less fear or aggression in some cases. When they encounter a species unfamiliar to them such as humans, in rare instances, they will become curious and survey the situation and even more rarely may bump their nose on a leg of the person standing in the water. Although snapping turtles have fierce dispositions,[16] when they are encountered in the water or a swimmer approaches, they will slip quietly away from any disturbance or may seek shelter under mud or grass nearby.[17] However, common snapping turtles can be very aggressive if restrained or approached on land, and have a bite powerful enough to mutilate human fingers.


    The common snapping turtle is not an ideal pet. Its neck is very flexible, and a wild turtle can bite its handler even if picked up by the sides of its shell. The claws are about as sharp as those of dogs, but cannot be trimmed as can dog claws. Despite this, a snapping turtle cannot use its claws for either attacking (its legs have no speed or strength in "swiping" motions) or eating (no opposable thumbs), but only as aids for digging and gripping. Veterinary care is best left to a reptile specialist. A wild common snapping turtle will make a hissing sound when it is threatened or encountered; however, when in the water and unprovoked, they are fairly docile towards humans.

    It is a common misconception that common snapping turtles may be safely picked up by the tail with no harm to the animal; in fact, this has a high chance of injuring the turtle, especially the tail itself and the vertebral column.[18] Lifting the turtle with the hands is difficult and dangerous. Snappers can stretch their necks back across their own carapace and to their hind feet on either side to bite. When they feel stressed, they release a musky odor from behind their legs.

    It may be tempting to rescue a snapping turtle found on a road by getting it to bite a stick and then dragging it out of immediate danger. This action can, however, severely scrape the legs and underside of the turtle and lead to deadly infections in the wounds. The safest way to pick up a common snapping turtle is by grasping the carapace above the back legs. There is a large gap above the back legs that allows for easy grasping of the carapace and keeps hands safe from both the beak and claws of the turtle. It can also be picked up with a shovel, from the back, making sure the shovel is square across the bottom of the shell. The easiest way, though, is with a blanket or tarp, picking up the corners with the turtle in the middle.

    Snapping turtles are raised on some turtle farms in China.[19]

    Invasive species

    In recent years in Italy, large mature adult C. serpentina turtles have been taken from bodies of water throughout the country. They were most probably introduced by the unwise release of pets. In March 2011, an individual weighing 20 kg (44 lb) was captured in a canal near Rome;[20] another individual was captured near Rome in September 2012.[21] In Japan, the species was introduced as an exotic pet in the 1960s; it has been recorded as the source of serious bite injuries. In 2004 and 2005, some 1000 individuals were found in Chiba Prefecture, making up the majority of individuals believed to have been introduced.[22]

    In politics

    Political cartoon depicting merchants attempting to dodge the "Ograbme"

    The common snapping turtle was the central feature of a famous American political cartoon. Published in 1808 in protest at the Jeffersonian Embargo Act of 1807, the cartoon depicted a snapping turtle, jaws locked fiercely to an American trader who was attempting to carry a barrel of goods onto a British ship. The trader was seen whimsically uttering the words "Oh! this cursed Ograbme" ("embargo" spelled backwards). This piece is widely considered a pioneering work within the genre of the modern political cartoon.[citation needed]

    In 2006, the snapping turtle was declared the state reptile of New York by a sweeping vote of the New York Legislature after being popularly chosen by the state's public elementary school children.[23]

    As food

    The common snapping turtle is a traditional ingredient in turtle soup; consumption in large quantities however can become a health concern due to potential concentration of toxic environmental pollutants in the turtle's flesh.[24]


    The species is currently classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, but has declined sufficiently due to pressure from collection for the pet trade and habitat degradation that Canada and several U.S. states have enacted or are proposing stricter conservation measures.[1] In Canada, it is listed as 'Special Concern' in the Species at Risk Act in 2011 and is a target species for projects that include surveys, identification of major habitats, investigation and mitigation of threats, and education of the public including landowners. Involved bodies include governmental departments, universities, museums, and citizen science projects.[25]


    1. ^ a b van Dijk, P.P. (2012). "Chelydra serpentina ". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2012: e.T163424A97408395. Retrieved 4 December 2017.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link) .mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:"""""'"'"}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
    2. ^ Ernst, C.H. (2008). "Systematics, Taxonomy, and Geographic Distribution of the Snapping Turtles, Family Chelydridae". In A.C. Styermark; M.S. Finkler; R.J. Brooks. Biology of the Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 5–13.
    3. ^ "COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpentina" (PDF).
    4. ^ Wilson, D.E.; Burnie, D., eds. (2001). Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife. London and New York: Dorling Kindersley (DK) Publishing. 624 pp. ISBN 0-7894-7764-5.
    5. ^ Iverson, J.B.; Higgins, H.; Sirulnik, A.; Griffiths, C. (1997). "Local and geographic variation in the reproductive biology of the snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)". Herpetologica 53 (1): 96-117.
    6. ^ a b c Brooks, R.J.; Brown, G.P.; Galbraith, D.A. (1991). "Effects of a sudden increase in natural mortality of adults on a population of the common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)". Canadian Journal of Zoology 69 (5): 1314-1320.
    7. ^ a b Virginia Herpetological Society: Eastern Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpentina serpentina
    8. ^ Hammer, D.A. (1972). Ecological relations of waterfowl and snapping turtle populations. Ph.D. dissertation, Utah State University, Salt Lake City, UT. 72 pg.
    9. ^ Ernst, C.H., & Lovich, J. E. (2009). Turtles of the United States and Canada. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
    10. ^ US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center, Environmental Laboratory: Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
    11. ^ Edqvist, ULf. "Tortoise Trust Web - Conservation and Ecology of Snapping Turtles". www.tortoisetrust.org. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
    12. ^ COSEWIC. "Species Profile - Snapping Turtle". Species At Risk Public Registry. Government of Canada. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
    13. ^ a b Rhodin, Anders G.J.; van Dijk, Peter Paul; Iverson, John B.; Shaffer, H. Bradley (2010-12-14). "Turtles of the world, 2010 update: Annotated checklist of taxonomy, synonymy, distribution and conservation status" (PDF). Chelonian Research Monographs. 5: 000.xx. doi:10.3854/crm.5.000.checklist.v3.2010. ISBN 0965354091. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-15.
    14. ^ van Dijk, P.P.; Lee, J.; Calderón Mandujano, R.; Flores-Villela, O.; Lopez-Luna, M.A.; Vogt, R.C. (2007). "Chelydra rossignoni". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
    15. ^ Chelydra, Reptile Database
    16. ^ Snapping Turtle, Encyclopedia.com
    17. ^ Common Snapping Turtle, Nature.ca
    18. ^ Indiviglio, Frank (2008-06-24). "Handling Snapping Turtles, Chelydra serpentina, and Other Large Turtles". That Reptile Blog. That Pet Place. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
    19. ^ Fang Anning (方安宁), "“小庭院”养殖龟鳖大有赚头" (Small-scale turtle farming may be very profitable). Zuojiang Daily (左江日报) (with photo)
    20. ^ "Una "azzanatrice" catturata fuori Roma". (March 17, 2011). Corriere della Sera. Milan.
    21. ^ "Tartaruga azzannatrice presa nel Tevere - Photostory Curiosità - ANSA.it". www.ansa.it. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
    22. ^ Desaki, Yotaro (5 August 2014). "Invasive snapping turtles on the rise in Chiba, other areas". thejapantimes news. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
    23. ^ Medina, Jennifer (2006-06-23). "A Few Things Lawmakers Can Agree On". N.Y./Region. New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
    24. ^ "Common Snapping Turtle: Interesting Facts". Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, State of Connecticut. DEEP (ct.gov). 8 November 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
    25. ^ Environment and Climate Change Canada (2016). Management Plan for the Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) in Canada [Proposed] (PDF). Species at Risk Act Management Plan Series. Ottawa: Ottawa, Environment and Climate Change Canada.


    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    The snapping turtle's range stretches from S. Alberta and east to Nova Scotia in the north, extending south all the way to the Gulf of Mexico and into central Texas.

    Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

    provided by ReptileDB
    Continent: Middle-America North-America
    Distribution: S Canada (from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, S Quebec, Ontario, west to Manitoba, SE Alberta, Saskatchewan), USA (east of the Rocky Mountains and south to the Texas coast: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine)
    Type locality: œin Calidis regionibus


    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    The snapping turtle normally has a shell length ranging from 8 -18 1/2"and has a tail nearly as long as the shell. The tail has saw-toothed keels on it. The shell ranges in color from dark brown to tan and can even be black in some individuals. Snapping turtles have characteristic tubercles on their necks and legs. Plastrons of snapping turtles are very small and leave much of the extremities exposed. Snapping turtle necks, legs, and tails have a yellowish color and the head is dark in color.

    Range mass: 4.0 to 16.0 kg.

    Range length: 20.0 to 45.0 cm.

    Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; bilateral symmetry


    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Snapping turtles only live in fresh or brackish water. They prefer water bodies with muddy bottoms and abundant vegetation because concealment is easier.

    Habitat Regions: temperate ; freshwater

    Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams

    Wetlands: marsh ; swamp

Trophic Strategy

    Trophic Strategy
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Snapping turtles will eat nearly anything that they can get their jaws around. They feed on carrion, invertebrates, fish, birds, small mammals, amphibians, and a surprisingly large amount of aquatic vegetation. Snapping turtles kill other turtles by decapitation. This behavior might be territoriality towards other turtles or a very inefficient feeding behavior.

    Animal Foods: mammals; amphibians; reptiles; eggs; carrion ; insects; mollusks

    Plant Foods: leaves; algae

    Primary Diet: omnivore


    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    The eggs and hatchlings of snapping turtles may be eaten by other large turtles, great blue herons, crows, raccoons, skunks, foxes, bullfrogs, water snakes, and large predatory fish, such as largemouth bass. However, once snapping turtles become larger, there are few animals that prey on them. Snapping turtles are highly aggressive and will fight back ferociously.

    Known Predators:

    • great blue herons (Ardea herodias)
    • raccoons (Procyon lotor)
    • striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis)
    • red foxes (Vulpes vulpes)
    • largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides)
    • bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus)
    • northern water snakes (Nerodia sipedon)
    • American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos)


    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Snapping turtles communicate to mates with leg movements while the turtles face each other. Snapping turtles also use their sense of smell, vision, and touch to detect prey. They may sense vibrations in the water.

    Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; chemical

    Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; vibrations ; chemical

Life Expectancy

    Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
    provided by AnAge articles
    Maximum longevity: 47 years (wild)
    Life Expectancy
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    In the wild snapping turtles are estimated to live up to 30 years. Snapping turtles are most vulnerable as hatchlings. Once they reach a certain size there are few natural predators of snapping turtles, though they are often hit by cars when searching for new ponds or nesting sites. In captivity they can live up to 47 years.

    Average lifespan
    Status: wild:
    30 years.

    Range lifespan
    Status: captivity:
    47 (high) years.

    Average lifespan
    Status: captivity:
    17.8 years.


    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Mating takes place from April to November. In the mating process, the male positions himself on top of the female's shell by grasping the shell with his claws. He then curves his tail until his vent contacts the female's vent. Fertilization takes place at this time. After the eggs have developed sufficiently in the female, she excavates a hole, normally in sandy soil, and lays as many as 83 eggs. The eggs take 9 to 18 weeks to hatch depending on the weather. Interestingly, female snapping turtles sometimes store sperm for several years. Sperm storage allows individuals to mate at any time of the year independent of female ovulation, and it also allows females to lay eggs every season without needing to mate.

    Breeding season: April to November

    Range number of offspring: 83.0 (high) .

    Range gestation period: 18.0 (high) weeks.

    Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; oviparous ; sperm-storing

    Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male:
    2646 days.

    Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female:
    3285 days.

    Snapping turtles do not provide any care for their babies. Adult female turtles return to the water after they have deposited their eggs on land and are not present when the turtles hatch.

    Parental Investment: no parental involvement

Conservation Status

    Conservation Status
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Snapping turtle populations are not close to extinction or even threatened. Habitat destruction could pose a danger to snapping turtle populations at a later time. Some individuals are killed for food which does impact the population, but in a very minor way.

    US Federal List: no special status

    CITES: no special status

    State of Michigan List: no special status

    IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: no special status


    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Snapping turtles consume the young of some game fish. The impact of snapping turtles on these populations is minimal. Snapping turtles are known to kill young and adult ducks and geese, but once again the effects are minimal.

    Negative Impacts: injures humans (bites or stings)

    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Snapping turtles are used by many people in turtle stews and soups. Snapping turtle shells were used in many ceremonies among Native Americans. The shells were dried and mounted on handles with corn kernels inside for use as rattles.

    Positive Impacts: food