Snapping Turtle

Ajay Katwala Period 8 5/16/16

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Snapping turtles generally live in North America and South America (Snapping Turtle 2) . They are specifically found in lakes, rivers, ponds and canals in Southeast and South central Canada to Northeast South America (Snapping Turtle). They prefer to live in slow moving, deep freshwater. They will lie on the muddy river bottom for camouflage. They will periodically surface to get air or to lay their eggs. In specific areas the National Park Service will help keep their habitats protected (Science Explorations 2).


Snapping turtles have four legs. On land, they are very slow due to having to carry around their big, heavy shell and having short, stumpy legs. Their legs are spread out awkwardly to the side making it difficult to move fast. But in the water, they use their legs differently. Their four legs act almost like flippers, kicking against the water. They will also use their webbed feet and smooth arched shell to swim. They will also slither across the river bottom looking for prey (Science Explorations 2).
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Body Covering

Snapping turtles have hard protection. They can either have smooth shells or spiky black shells. Their shell is made up of two parts. The top part is the carapace and the bottom part is called the plastron. These two parts are joined at the side by bony bridges. The two shell parts are made up of small, flat plates, that are fused together to the turtle's backbone, ribs and parts of its shoulder and hips. Each plate is covered by broad, thin scales called laminae. The laminae will give the turtle shell its color (Science Explorations). Unlike other turtles, the snapping turtles head is very large and the neck and tail are about equal length. Because of this, the snapping turtles cannot retract it's head, legs or tail into its shell for protection. Also, snapping turtles are very slow. Because they are slow and can't retract their body into their shell, they are very aggressive. If anything comes too close to these turtles, they will not hesitate for a second to attack.


Snapping turtles are omnivores. They eat lots of aquatic animals, fish and a lot of different plant life that are found in freshwater. (Snapping Turtle). They will patiently sit around in murky waters, luring in fish with their worm-like tongue and biting down on them. They will also eat a variety of different insects, nuts, seeds, snails, worms and small mammals. They will even eat other turtles (Snapping Turtle 2). Snapping turtles have very good adaptations that make them very good for eating other small mammals and turtles. They have long necks, powerful jaws and a fierce disposition. They will lunge at small animals and bite them (Snapping Turtle 2). Because of these attributes, they are predator to many animals.


From April to November is the snapping turtle's general mating season, but the peak of it all is June. Snapping turtles will use internal fertilization to have their hatchlings.(Snapping Turtle). Internal fertilization is when the sperm and egg meet together inside the female. The female turtle will lay about 25-50 eggs in a bottle-shaped cavity (Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpentina). After she lays them, she will slowly crawl back into the water. Raccoons, foxes, coyotes, skunks and large birds will try to find the eggs because they have good protein in them. It is estimated that only 1% of her eggs will survive (Science Explorations 2). After the eggs are laid, it will take the baby turtles about 9 to 18 weeks to completely hatch out of the egg (Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpentina). They will crawl their way out of the cavity using their sharp claws digging into the side of the hole.


Snapping turtles have been around longer than the dinosaurs. They have been on Earth for more then 90 million years. Over all those years, snapping turtles need to have adapted. They primarily change so they can adapt to their surrounding. One of their adaptations is that they now have unique cheek patches inside their mouths that are camouflaged to match the surrounding waterscape (What are the Adaptations of Snapping Turtles). This adaptation helps snapping turtles remain unseen by any animal that would try to eat them. Another adaptation that helps them find food, is their tongue. Snapping turtles mostly eat fish and because of that, over lots of years, their tongue has evolved to look like a worm. The movement of the worm-like tongue can be used to lure the fish for a meal (What are the Adaptations of Snapping Turtles).

Other Info

  • The alligator snapping turtle ranks among the world’s largest and heaviest freshwater turtles (Snapping Turtle 2)
  • Males are generally larger than females
  • Males can weigh up to more than 200 pounds (Snapping Turtle 2)
  • Some alligator snapping turtles live more than 70 years (Snapping Turtle 2)
  • Snapping turtles have been on Earth for more than 90 million years (Snapping Turtle 2)
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Work Cited

"Snapping Turtle." Gale Reasearch. New York: Columbia UP, n.d. N. pag. Gale researching Context. Web. 10 May 2016. <>.

Finkler, Michael S. “Snapping Turtle.” World Book Online. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. World Book Advanced. Web. 10 May 2016. <>.

Means, Bruce D. “Turtle.” World Book. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. World Book Advanced. Web. 11 May 2016. <>.

"Snapping Turtle Chelydra Serpentina." ENature: FieldGuides: Species Detail. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2016. <>.

"Alligator Snapping Turtle." SIRS Discoverer: Animal Facts. 2015: n.p. SIRS Discoverer. Web. 13 May 2016.

"What Are the Adaptations of Snapping Turtles?" Ask. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2016. <>.

"Science Explorations." Scholastic Publishes Literacy Resources and Children's Books for Kids of All Ages. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2016.

"Science Explorations." Scholastic Publishes Literacy Resources and Children's Books for Kids of All Ages. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2016. <