The Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentine) is a freshwater, aquatic reptile. It is also known as the Snapper or the Common Snapping Turtle.
The Snapping Turtle has powerful beak-like jaws. It has a slightly domed, serrated-edged (saw-toothed) upper shell, called a carapace. The lower shell, called the plastron, is narrower than the upper shell. It has a long tail – as long as the upper shell – and a long, snake-like neck. It is mostly greyish-brown. It has stumpy legs with claws, and webbing between the claws, which enable it to walk on land and swim in water. It does not have flippers like the sea turtle.
It grows to 20-49 centimetres (8-19 inches) long. The male is larger than the female.
The Snapping Turtle is common to the waters of eastern and central United States of America, from southern Canada to Florida. It is highly adaptable to most waterways, although it prefers slow-moving water, such as ponds or streams.
It is an omnivore, eating plants, insects, and small aquatic animals.
The Snapping Turtle snaps at its predators, usually when it is on land, because it has not been seen snapping when it is underwater.
The female lays eggs in a hole on land. She digs the hole in sandy soil. She lays 25-80 eggs and covers them with sand. The young turtles emerge from their eggs, and head straight for the water.
Its lifespan is about 100 years.
[Location of photographs: Tbilisi Zoo, Georgia]
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM