The Snapping Turtle
Taking a snap at life
The Great Snapper
It is thought that I snap as an immediate response to a threat but that's not true. In my environment I am considered the top of the food chain. In response to unfamiliar disturbances I would crawl under the mud and grass nearby for shelter. We developed the ability to snap because we are too large to tuck our heads into our shells for defense. Snapping is our alternative defense mechanism, we will only snap if we feel threatened otherwise we hide or hiss. We have long claws used for ripping apart food, burying eggs in sand, and self defense.
Freshwater Food Web
Only other member of the Chelydridae family is my cousin the Alligator Snapping Turtle, who also happens to be a predators.
Snapping turtles have large heads, that help generate more force to their bite thanks to larger muscle mass in the head.
Eggs are subject to predation by crows, foxes, snakes, skunks, and raccoons.
Life of a Snapping Turtle
I spend a majority of my life under the water and alone, I can stay submerged underwater for up to 3 hours at a time. Mating takes place once a year around the spring time. Laying anywhere from 10 to 50 eggs, that take 3 to 4 months to hatch. Snapping turtles have been thought to be able to live up to 150 years old, but typically live between 20 to 50 years old. We can be aggressive hunters, and can grow to be very large thanks to our aggressive feeding.
I am an Omnivore and feed on both plant and animal, and scavenge anything I can find making my diet very diverse. With lots of protein, I actively hunt and prey on fish, frogs, reptiles, birds and other small mammals. My competitors who also eat these things include the Muskrat, Raccoons, Foxes, Buzzard, and snakes.
As an adult snapping turtle I have few predators, but my eggs are often stolen by foxes, minks, skunks, raccoons, crows, snakes, and hawks. Other predators known to adults are coyotes, bears, alligators, and my larger cousin the alligator snapping turtle. We migrate to new water sources often due to pollution, habitat destruction, food scarcity and overcrowding. We look for sandy soil to lay our eggs, and use the sand to cover our eggs providing protection and incubation. We are fairly tolerant of cold weather and do not hibernate. Snappers are able to continue to live under the ice during winters. We can breath through gas exchange, known as extra-pulmonary respiration. If we can't get enough oxygen this way we will begin to use anaerobic pathways, burning sugar and fat without using oxygen.
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"Common Snapping Turtle." BioKids. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 May 2016. <http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/Chelydra_serpentina/>.
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