We came across the Snapping Turtle as we were walking around Meadowlark Gardens a couple of weeks ago. I was surprised to see it in the middle of a large grassy area, quite a distance from the lake and the pond, and I thought maybe he was making his way from one to the other.
A few facts I have learned.
The snapping turtle is a very aggressive predator and one of the largest turtles in North America.
It often buries itself in the mud with only its nostrils and eyes showing, waiting for unsuspecting prey. These turtles will snap at anything they find threatening. Their snap is so powerful that it can easily shear fingers - so please stay a safe distance away. (Added note from Denise: I had heard this before so I wasn't as close as it looks, using the zoom on my camera and not wanting to go nearer. I remember last year when we observed a poor old Canada Goose limping badly at Huntley Meadows in a very marshy area, and a man who was standing next to me said that he had probably been bitten by a snapping turtle. There were a lot of them there also).
Snapping turtles live 30-40 years on average.
In size it can have an 8 to 20 inch shell length, and weigh 8 to 35 lbs.
Snapping turtles are most obvious when on land either basking or nesting.
June is the best time of the year to spot them. They overwinter under the muddy bottom of their watery home, so they are generally not seen between November to late March.
Female snapping turtles may make considerable migrations to find a suitable nesting site, with the longest recorded round trip being 16 kilometers. (Maybe I was seeing some nesting behavior).
Although the common snapping turtle prefers shallow waters, it is capable of diving to depths of 2 to 3 meters or more.
The modern snapping turtle evolved over 40 million years ago, while anatomically modern humans emerged only 200,000 years ago. Snapping turtles hung out with dinosaurs but they are not closely related at all. Birds have more in common with dinosaurs than snapping turtles.
NEVER EVER hold a snapping turtle by its tail! You can do some serious damage to its spine this way. You should always hold a snapping turtle by the shell and support its weight as much as you can. You can see a photo tutorial of the right way to hold a snapper at chelydra.org. If you click here the link will take you to that page.
What do you do if you come across a turtle crossing the road? Here is a page that tell you how to help out. There is a right and a wrong way to hold a turtle. This tells you how to safely hold one without hurting it, safer for him and for you I might add.
Thank you Misty for hosting one of my favorite memes, and please click here to visit other interesting critters from all over the world.