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|Species: Chelydra serpentina
Common snapping turtles have a large head, a long tail, and can grow to be around 8-18 inches in length. Their shells are tan to dark brown colored, often covered in algae, and contain three rows of keels with points on the back. They have a distinct sharp, beak-like jaw.
Habitat & Range
Common snapping turtles are found in shallow freshwater areas with muddy bottoms and can be found across southeastern Canada, eastern United States, and extending all the way south to the Gulf of Mexico.
Common snapping turtles spend most of their time in the water. They are most active during dawn and dusk and hunt invertebrates, fish, birds, mammals, plants, and carrion. To ambush their prey, snapping turtles bury themselves in mud until only their eyes and nostrils are exposed.
In their environment, common snapping turtles occupy the top of the food chain and will rarely feel fear or aggression towards others. Though they are fierce when hunting, when encountered in water by humans or unfamiliar species, they tend to quietly slip away.
Common snapping turtles can mate from April through November, but will usually lay eggs during the summer. Females often travel to find suitable sandy plots to deposit their eggs in dug-up holes. Incubation time depends on temperature and can range between 9-18 weeks. After hatching, baby snapping turtles will leave the nesting grounds and head straight for the water.
Featured image by James DakeSee Me At Cayuga Nature Center