The Snapping Turtle

Taking a snap at life

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The Great Snapper

As a member of the family Chelydridae, I am commonly found in large freshwater areas. In aquatic biomes of lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, marshes, and swamps. The Alligator Snapping Turtle and I are the only members of this family found in North America. My rise came in the Triassic time period.

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

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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.

Fun Fact

The largest snapping turtles on weight records around 600 lbs.


Works Cited

"Common Snapping Turtle." a-z Animals. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 May 2016. <>.

"Common Snapping Turtle." BioKids. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 May 2016. <>.

"Common Snapping Turtle." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 May 2016. <>.