Snapper at Large

This played out snapping turtle was at the Red Wolf Overlook (7/5/11).

Last week a very large Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) was seen in the Black Bear Compound, and again the next day, at the Red Wolf Exhibit. Was the snapper attempting to expand its knowledge of mammalian behavior? No, I think it was probably off looking for a place to lay eggs or even a new pond to colonize. Both excursions had the turtle running into barriers, a fence the first day and the heat the next.

The turtle in these photos looks rather relaxed (maybe a bit too relaxed), but beware. If you should happen to come across one of these behemoths while walking along the paths of the Museum, give it a wide berth. While they look awkward and clumsy, they can move very quickly. Those folds of skin that you see around the neck, the turtle neck, is an indication of how much neck these turtles have. They can stretch their necks nearly to the back of the shell. And, they don’t call them snapping turtles for nothing!

Give these turtles plenty of room and respect.

Amazing creatures, those snapping turtles.

4 responses to Snapper at Large

    • Greg Dodge says:

      From what I’ve read about these turtles, they can be as long as 18-20 inches or more (carapace measurement, front to rear) and weigh about fifty pounds. Some in captivity have weighed 70 pounds, but they average smaller.
      They can live more than 40 years. One turtle that I’ve read about was 5-8 years when it was captured. Its captor had it for over forty-five years.
      The stanchions on which the signage is mounted (bottom photo) are 21 inches apart, 27 inches outside measurement. The turtle appears to be at least as long as 21 inches, so this appears to be a large individual, and I would guess it’s at the upper limits of a Common Snapping Turtle’s life expectancy.

  1. Leslie says:

    Wow, that’s a big one! And look at those claws! Did you just let him/her wander off on his/her own?

    • Greg Dodge says:

      Yes, the turtle was left there to fend for itself. It was the end of the day and all guests had departed so there was no chance for an encounter, except by curious staff.

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