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American Snapping Turtle

  • Geographical Region: They are found from south Alberta to Nova Scotia and south to the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Size: Up to 19 inches with males larger than females.
  • Weight: Up to 45 pounds for wild adults; up to 75 pounds for captive adults.
  • Habitat: They like warm shallow waters, buried in the mud with only their eyes and nostrils exposed.
  • Food: Carnivorous, they eat anything they can catch, even other small turtles.
  • Interesting Fact: They are characterized by their massive heads, strong jaws, keeled brown carapace, and long tails. They have a small and cross shaped plastron.

Chelydra serpentina (Common Snapping Turtle)

Common Snapping Turtle

American Snapping Turtle Facts

The American Snapping Turtle, commonly known as Snapping Turtles are often times libeled since people tend to believe that they are mean and have a scary look. They only live in North America and there are of two categories that are the only existing ones. These are the Common Snapping Turtle and the Alligator snapping turtle.

Do They Live in Fresh Water or Salt Water?

Generally, they live in freshwater and the alligator snapping turtle is mostly found in the southern waters of America, whereas, the common snapping turtle is found in lakes and streams. They live in freshwater where there is a lot of fish.

What is This Breed’s Scientific Name?

The general scientific name of the American snapping turtle is Chelydridae. The common snapping turtle is however called Chelydra while the alligator’s scientific name is Macrochelys temminckii.

How Long Do They Normally Live?

Being reptiles, they are expected to live much longer, probably due to their tough skin. Too many people believe that these snapping turtles live for over 150 years, however, they live between 20 and 50 years old when they are under human care.

How Big Do They Get?

Alligator Snapping Turtle Care
Alligator Snapping Turtle

The alligator snapping turtle is usually larger and the male turtles are normally bigger than female turtles. Their average length is 26 inches long, in shell and weight around 175 pounds (80 kgs), they can exceed 220 pounds (100kgs). The females weigh around 50 pounds (23 kgs).An adult common snapping turtle measures around 8 to 12 inches and they weigh between 10 pounds (4.5Kgs) to 35 pounds (16Kgs).

What Kind of Lighting Do They Require if Kept as Pets?

Though they are known for their snapping tendency, they also kept as pets in homes or in the reserves. It is recommended that you use a UV florescent bulb for lighting the area. And a 12-hour off and 12-hour on light period will help the turtles to be active and healthy.

What Temperatures Do They Live in?

They should be kept at a moderate room temperature. If they are kept in a tank, or a designed house, there should be a basking lamp over the shallow area of the tank in order to give out a water bask during the day. This will be favorable to them since they propense in basking in the sun.


They can feed on moderate size minnows, crayfish, goldfish or the pond snails. They feed on vegetables like water hyacinth and elodea. The young ones however are used to guppies, meal worms and ghost shrimps.

Carnivorous or Vegetarian?

They will generally feed on anything. They can feed on vegetables and feed on meat as well. They mostly feed on vegetables and they are known for eating sea animals like fish. They can also eat snakes. So they are omnivorous.

What are The Best Store Food Brands as a Pet?

They can also feed on chicken meat, turkey, fish slabs and beef heart. For vegetables, you can give them romaine lettuce or mustard seed. You can also offer them periodically with strawberries, bananas or apple, however, this should not be a constant meal as it might be dangerous to them.

Where Do They Live?

They mostly live in water, however, the nesting females usually venture onto open land when laying. They are known to be able to remain underwater for up to 3 hours at a time and they are used to be in waters with a lot of sand.

Where are They Found?

The native origin of the American snapping turtle is Canada, however, they are spread in the majority parts of the United States and are mostly found in the southern waters like Florida and stretch to Mexico and all the way to Canada.

What are Their Breeding Habits?

The American snapping turtle mate once every year and mostly in the Spring Season. The female turtle will then lay anywhere they find comfortable from 10 to 50 eggs. The eggs will take approximately 3 to 4 months to hatch.

What are Their Predators?

Despite their rough and tough shell and skin, they are fed on by big wild animals such as alligators, foxes, bears, skunks or raccoons. These predators manage to eat up the American snapping turtle due to their big jaws that can wrap up the turtle.

Are they Endangered?

These species are considered endangered and mostly in the Ontario Province whereby it is legal to hunt the turtles with a maximum of 2 turtles per person per day.

That affects the lives of the American snapping turtle because some might end up dying due to poor care by humans. They also are at risk due to habitat loss and road mortality.

Common Snapping Turtle Vs Alligator Snapping Turtle

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Tuesday 28th of May 2019

We just had a snapping turtle lay eggs in our back yard i am so excited. I dont want the foxes to eat the eggs so i well build a fence around the nest to protect it.