Common Snapping Turtle
Excerpted from: Animal Diversity
|Common Snapping Turtle
||8 to 14 inches
||Tan to dark brown to almost black.
||50 to 125 days
||7 to 55 eggs
||Carrion, invertebrates, fish, birds, small mammals, amphibians
The snapping turtle normally has a shell length ranging from 8 -18.5"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.
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.
Snapping turtles are not social creatures. Social interactions are limited to aggressive
interactions between individuals, usually males. Many individuals can be found within
a small range; snapping turtle density is normally related to the amount of available
food. Snapping turtles can be very vicious when removed from the water, but they
become docile when placed back into the water. Snapping turtles sometimes bury
themselves in mud with only their nostrils and eyes exposed. This burying behavior
is used as a means of ambushing prey.
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.
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
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