Common Snapping Turtle

Chelydra serpentina

Mark Moran

The Common Snapping Turtle is Virginia's largest turtle. It's carapace (top shell) will grow to 18 inches long, and they can weigh up to 45 pounds. Snapping turtles have a large head with a hooked jaw. Their colors are usually dull brown to black. They have webbed feet with long claws and a very long tail.

Snapping turtles are mostly nocturnal, active at night. They will feed underwater during the day, ambushing prey. These turtles are very shy in the water, but on land they are very agressive and will give a painful bite.

Jeff Dawson

Fred Siskind, Huntley Meadows Park

Snapping turtles prefer muddy lakes and ponds, as well as slow-moving rivers. They usually live 30-40 years.  

The Common Snapping Turtle will eat just about anything, including: aquatic plants, fish, frogs and tadpoles, salamanders, insects, snails, leeches, worms, snakes, small mammals, and baby ducks and goslings. They will also eat carrion (dead animals).

Hammerson, 1986

Snapping turtles lay 20-40 eggs at a time, each the size of a ping-pong ball. The eggs hatch in early autumn. The babies are eaten by many predators, including: herons, hawks, crows, large fish, raccoons, snakes, and larger turtles.

The Common Snapping Turtle will sometimes release a foul odor from a gland on the underside of its body.

Mark Moran

Copyright, John White

Copyright, Joyce Gross

Additional Media

Description
Type
Credit
Common Snapping Turtle Eating Lizard's Tail
Video
Mark Moran
Young Snapping Turtle Eating Earthworm
Video
Mark Moran
Young Snapping Turtle Eating Beetle Larva #1
Video (Long download, approx 1 minute on T1)
Mark Moran
Video (Long download, approx 1 minute on T1)
Mark Moran
Video (Long download, approx 1 minute on T1)
Mark Moran
Link to Printable Page
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Relationships in Nature: 

PREY/FOOD
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

Bluegill

Great Blue Heron

Common Duckweed

Freshwater Leech Pa

Mallard

Raccoon

Common Cattail

Muskrat SP

Crayfish

Bullfrog

Yellow Pond Lily

Beaver SP

Bullfrog

Largemouth Bass

Common Reed

Canada Goose

Red-tailed Hawk

Tussock Sedge

Yellow Pond Lily

Common Crow

Pickerelweed

Creek Chub

Black Rat Snake

Lizard's Tail

Golden Shiner

Northern Water Snake

Dodder

Copperhead

Double-crested Cormorant

Long-leaf Pondweed

Lizard's Tail

Hydrilla

Earthworm

Greater Bladderwort

Leopard Slug

Buttonbush

Red-backed Salamander

Arrow Arum

Meadow Vole

Swamp Rose Mallow

Common Duckweed

Wood Frog

Five-lined Skink

American Toad

Channel Catfish

Eastern Mosquitofish

Relationship to Humans:

Common Snapping Turtles, are often eaten by people, especially turtle soup. These turtles also help people by controlling fish populations and other animals.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Chordate
CLASS
Reptile
ORDER
Testudines
FAMILY
Chelydridae
GENUS
Chelydra
SPECIES
Chelydra serpentina

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