Snapping Turtle


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Common Name
Snapping Turtle
Category
Reptiles
ScientificName
Chelydra serpentina
Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Reptilia
Order
Testudines
Family
Chelydridae
Genus
Chelydra
Species
serpentina
SubSpecies

 

Description
Upper shell is dark gray, brown, or black; serrated toward rear and often covered with algae; lower shell is small and yellowish; tail equal in length to shell, allowing it to wrap around objects and hold on; small lumps (tubercles) on neck and legs
Size
8 – 19 in. (20.32 – 48.26 cm) shell length; weigh about 10 – 35 lbs. (4.54 – 15.88 kg); males slightly larger than females
Ecological Role
The snapping turtle is an omnivore, feeding on both plants and animals. It plays an important role in the aquatic ecosystem in that it sometimes acts as a scavenger, cleaning up dead organisms from the body of water it inhabits. The eggs of the snapping turtle are food for skunk, fox, raccoon, mink; hatchlings are eaten by herons, crows, hawks, bullfrogs, large fish, snakes; adults are eaten by humans.
Fun Facts
Adult snappers have long tails with large triangular plates, making them seem like dinosaurs. Snapping turtles do not need a heavy lower shell for protection because they spend much of their time nestled into the soft muddy bottom of ponds and lakes. In the water, they are shy and prefer to quietly swim away when disturbed. On land, where they are more vulnerable, snapping turtles will lunge and strike repeatedly at predators or tormenting humans. They strike so hard that the front part of the body leaves the ground. They have powerful jaws and are capable of severely tearing flesh. Snapping turtles will travel long distances across land in search of new bodies of water.
Food
Aquatic plants, invertebrates, small fish, amphibians, frog eggs, other turtles, ducks, geese, small mammals, decaying meat (carrion); use worm-like growth on tip of tongue to lure fish near mouth
Cover
 
Nest
Female travels overland to dig nest in open fields, sand and gravel banks, railroad beds, pond and lake margins including muskrat burrows; like other turtles, may dig several nests using hind feet before depositing eggs; about 25 or more eggs per nest, laid in early summer, usually June; female covers nest and tamps it down
Breeding
Male swims above female and grasps her from above, often nipping at her head and neck; males may battle for mating rights; breeding season is April – November
Eggs
Round, about 1 in. (2.54 cm) diameter, with soft, spherical shells; temperature of the egg during development determines sex of turtle; hatch in 55 – 125 days depending upon environmental conditions
Habitat
Likes soft mud with vegetation for hiding; ponds, marshes, lakes, rivers, reservoirs; prefers large quiet waters
Kentucky Distribution
Statewide; is found in almost every body of water in Kentucky
Life Cycle
 
Life Span
 
Life Stage
 
Reproduction
 
Seasonal Changes
 
Spawning
 
Status
Common
Uses
 
Voice
 
Young
Hatchlings have a tail length nearly equal to the length of their shell, about 1 in. (2.54 cm); the young look like miniature adults and must travel up to 0.25 mile (0.32 km) to find water after hatching; young are poor swimmers and may drown even in shallow water if they can not find plants to hold onto; become sexually mature in 5 – 6 years
What We Can Do
 
Host
 
Diagnosis and Control
 
Interesting Facts
 
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