Sunday, January 23, 2011

Common Snapping Turtle

(Image Source)
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Testudines
Family : Chelydridae
Genus : Chelydra 
Species : serpentina

Length : 10-20in (25-50cm)
Weight : 10-40lbs (4.5-18kg)

IUCN Status : Not Listed

The Common Snapping Turtle has a pretty extensive range that covers a great deal of Eastern North America. They are found in fresh water, preferring habitats that have muddy bottoms, which make it easier for them to hide. They are among the largest freshwater turtles in North America.

There are four recognized subspecies, each with their own range. They all possess long tails, clawed feet, and powerful beak-like jaws. They use those jaws to catch and consume just about anything they can fit inside of them. Common Snapping Turtles are omnivores, and eat fish, invertebrates, birds, mammals, plant matter, and carrion. They even consume other turtles, who they kill by decapitation. They sometimes hunt by burying themselves in the muddy water-bottoms, and then ambushing their prey.

Common Snapping Turtles are not at all social, and are really only seen together during mating or when fighting over territory. They are quite aggressive when handled out of the water, but become more calm when released back into the preferred habitat. Common Snapping Turtles were (and still are in some places) hunted for their meat. Hunting has not had a serious impact on their population.

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