Snapping Turtle

Snapping Turtles

By: Johan

Snapping turtles – classification
Snapping turtles belong to the family Chelydridae and are native to freshwater environments in the Americas. Several species of Australian turtles are sometimes colloquially referred to as Snappers or Snapping turtles, but these species are not true Snapping turtles.

The family Chelydridae used to comprise a wide range of genera, but a majority of the turtle species died out a long time ago. Extant species are today only found in the genera Chelydra and Macrochelys. Chelydra is where you will find the species named Chelydra serpentina, while Macrochelys is home to Macrochelys temminckii (the Alligator Snapping Turtle).

The species Chelydra serpentina is divided into four different subspecies.

·  Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina)
·  Florida Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina osceola)
·  Mexican Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina rossignoni
·  South American Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina acutirostris). This subspecies is also referred to as the Ecuadorian Snapping Turtle.

Snapping turtles – anatomy
Snapping turtles are renowned for their strong and sturdy jaws. The tails are long and spiked and the necks highly flexible. Unlike many other turtle species, the snapping turtles can reach back and snap a person that is holding on to the shell, even if it means that the animal have to stretch back two thirds the length of its shell. Snapping turtles can not fully retract the head and limbs into the shell, in will therefore carry out threatening displays rather than retract in case of danger. In addition to their strong jaws, they can use their sharp claws to defend themselves. The average shell size for adult Alligator snapping turtles, the largest of the snapping turtle species, is 26 inches, but they can grow significantly bigger. The Chelydra subspecies rarely exceeds 19 inches.

Snapping turtles – life style
Snapping turtles are highly adapted to an aquatic life style and spend most of their time in the water. A majority if the species lives in freshwater, but a few notable exceptions can be found in estuaries and similar brackish environments. Snapping turtles need plenty of sun to do well and are often seen floating on the water’s surface with only the shell exposed. A common misconception regarding snapping turtles is that they never bask on land. They do bask on land, but they are very shy when leaving the water and prefer to bask on land only when no humans or other potential threats are around.

If a Snapping turtle is forced to leave its aquatic home if can traverse quite long distance on land, but it is not very adapted to this. Over-crowding, habitat destruction, pollution and/or lack of food are factors that can make a Snapping turtle leave in search of a new home. Females will also venture onto land to lay their eggs. 

Snapping turtles – reproduction
Mating takes place from April through November, but a majority if the eggs are laid during June and July. Snapping turtles prefer sandy soil for their eggs and can travel quite far from the water in order to find a suitable spot. A batch will typically contain 25-50 eggs. When Snapping turtle species are adapted to cold parts of the world, the hatchlings spend the winter in the nest.

Snapping Turtle Articles:

Common Snapping Turtle
Snapping Turtle Care
Snapping Turtle Facts & Information


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