Snapping Turtle

Snapping Turtle.jpg

The common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentine) is the largest turtle in Ohio. They may weigh as much as 35 pounds.

There are many "snappers" in Ohio but they are seldom seen. Unlike other turtles, they rarely sun themselves except in early spring. They prefer to stay in habitats of shallow freshwater, buried in mud except for their nose and eyes. They even hibernate under water.

It has a large head and thick legs and tail. Its carapace has at least three large ridges. The plastron of the snapper is so small that it does not have the ability to go into its shell for protection like the box turtle. Its body length averages 8 - 18.5 inches.

Breeding begins in April and runs through November. The secretive reptile lays an average of 25 - 50 eggs (maximum of 83).

The ill-tempered snapping turtle gets its name from its powerful jaws. They are very aggressive and should be considered dangerous. These powerful jaws are used in capturing its diet invertebrates, carrion, water plants, fish, birds and small mammals.

From the prehistoric cultures to modern residents, Ohioans have hunted the snapping turtle for food and used its shell as a container and for decoration. Today people, with a valid Ohio fishing license, still hunt snappers.

See Also