The snapping turtle is an interesting animal with its primitive look and large size. Although it is technically a turtle, it is not timid. We will explore everything there is to know about these fascinating creatures. But before that, where do snapping turtles live?
Snapping turtles are found throughout the eastern part of the North American continent. These animals live in shallow freshwater bodies like estuaries, ponds, and streams. They like muddy habitats with dense vegetation. Also, snapping turtles spend most of their time in shallow waters than on land.
Let’s talk about this in greater detail now.
Snapping Turtles: Physical Characteristics And Behavior
There are two types of snapping turtles: the common snapping turtle and alligator snapping turtle.
The common snapping turtle is muscular and tough-looking. They have ridged shells that can grow to 50 cm during their lifetime.
This animal has a very flexible neck and can quickly snap at a threat. They have well-developed limbs and small, strong claws.
It continues to grow throughout its life and puts on weight.
Young snapping turtles have dark brown or black with white flecks on their underside.
Alligator snapping turtles have large heads and tails. They also have powerful jaws.
They have large scales on their thick shells, which make them look like alligators and other reptiles.
These physical attributes also make them look like descendants of dinosaurs.
Alligator snapping turtles are usually larger than common snapping turtles.
They are potentially more dangerous as well.
Alligator snapping turtles reach sexual maturity at roughly 12 years of age.
Meanwhile, common snapping turtles can reproduce by the time they are eight years old.
Both varieties of snapping turtles are omnivores. They eat worms, insects, fish, other turtles, and plant matter.
One-third of a snapping turtle’s diet is comprised of plant matter.
Baby turtles survive on small insects, worms, and tadpoles till they are old enough to catch bigger prey.
Snapping turtles have strong beak-like mouths and tongues that resemble a thick, juicy worm.
They hold out their tongue to attract prey. They stay submerged and wiggle their tongue in the water to attract fish.
When a fish comes close, they pounce on it and devour it.
Recommended Further Reading:
- Are Turtles Omnivores, Herbivores, Or Carnivores? (Actual Facts)
- Are Turtles Reptiles, Amphibians, Or Mammals? (Explained In Detail)
- Why Do Barnacles Attach To Turtles? Can You Remove Barnacles?
The Behavior Of Snapping Turtles
Snapping turtles are not very friendly. They are very fierce, especially when out of the water.
If you lift them out of the water, they will bite and injure you. Their flexible necks allow them to aim and cause significant damage.
Although snapping turtles do not attack for no reason, they will fight when threatened. Hence, the name!
Alligator snapping turtles are more aggressive than common snapping turtles.
When they fight amongst themselves, the weaker one often ends up being fatally injured.
Where Do Snapping Turtles Live In The World?
Snapping turtles are comfortable in freshwater environments like ponds, marshes, backwater sloughs, creeks, and rivers.
You can find larger populations in areas with mud bottoms and bushy plant growth.
These turtles are highly aquatic and spend most of their time in and around water. They are good swimmers.
The females leave the water and move to land to lay eggs.
However, they will return to the water after laying the eggs and not stay back to fend for their offspring.
You can find common snapping turtles in freshwater habitats of Southern Canada, the Rocky Mountains, and all the way down to Florida.
They are more widespread than alligator snapping turtles.
You will also find them in parts of South America, Mexico, and Central America.
Both types of turtles prefer freshwater habitats. However, they can also live in brackish water.
Related Further Reading:
- Why Do Turtles Float? + Why They Float On Their Backs & Sideways
- Do Turtles Yawn? [Here’s What Research Indicates]
- Why Do Turtles Cry? (The Scientific Reason Behind Their Crying)
- Where Do Painted Turtles Live? (In The Wild, US, Canada, Etc.)
Where Do Alligator Snapping Turtles Live?
Like common snapping turtles, alligator snapping turtles also prefer marshy freshwater habitats.
They live in rivers, canals, and swamps.
These animals are usually found in various locations in the South-Eastern parts of the United States.
You can find them in different parts of North America, from northern Florida to Texas and as far north as Iowa.
Non-native populations of snapping turtles also inhabit regions of Africa that they were introduced into long ago.
Do Snapping Turtles Live In Creeks?
Yes, snapping turtles can live in a range of freshwater habitats, including creeks.
They prefer swampy creeks with heavy vegetation and plenty of plant cover.
They like to hide from predators, and bushy undergrowth provides plenty of hiding spots.
Snapping turtles also like to spend time in shallow water.
They bury themselves in algae, decaying vegetation, and mud that allows them to camouflage with the natural environment.
Which States Do Snapping Turtles Live In The US?
Snapping turtles are spread all over Central and Eastern USA.
You can find alligator snapping turtles in East Texas, North to Southeastern Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
The common snapping turtles exist in the stretch of land extending from Southeastern Canada to the southwest edge of the Rocky Mountains and all the way east to Florida.
Alligator snapping turtles are also found all over North America, from Florida to Iowa.
While both species mostly exist in America, some turtle populations exist in Mexico and parts of South America.
Non-native species are also found in North Africa.
Related Further Reading:
- Why Do Turtles Slap Each Other? [And How To Stop Them]
- What Do Turtles Do In The Winter? (How Do They Survive Winter?)
- Why Do Turtles Eat Straws? [Why It’s Bad And How To Prevent It]
Where Do Baby Snapping Turtles Live?
Female snapping turtles lay eggs on land in spring or summer. They usually come out of the water to build a nest on land and lay eggs.
However, the mother turtle does not stick around to care for them. She returns to the water after laying her eggs.
A turtle can lay up to hundred eggs in a batch.
The mother buries these eggs with sand before she leaves them and returns to the water.
Despite concealing them with sand, the eggs are often sought out by predators, and many of them are usually destroyed.
The eggs that survive will hatch in 55 to 125 days.
Now, did you know that the sex of the baby turtle depends on the temperature of the nest?
Cooler nests produce males, while warmer nests produce female baby turtles.
Baby snapping turtles will start searching for the nearest water body soon after they hatch.
They are most comfortable in the water, where they will spend most of their time.
Baby snapping turtles will also bury themselves in mud and weeds when they come out of the water.
Where Do Baby Alligator Snapping Turtles Live?
While male alligator snapping turtles rarely leave the water, the female comes on land to lay eggs.
She will usually lay 25 to 30 eggs in a batch.
The eggs take eleven to sixteen weeks to mature and hatch into baby alligator snapping turtles.
The baby turtles resemble the adult but are much smaller.
After hatching, baby alligator snapping turtles find their way towards the nearest water body.
They prefer deep water bodies like rivers and swamps with weeds and bushy undergrowth.
They will survive on a diet of insects and tadpoles until they grow big enough to hunt other prey.
Interesting Further Reading:
- Are Turtles Lucky? [How Different Cultures View Turtles]
- Why Are Turtles Slow? (Factors Affecting Turtle Speed)
- Are Turtles Good Pets? [How Hard Is It To Keep Turtles?]
Where Do Snapping Turtles Live In The Winter?
Snapping turtles will usually burrow themselves in the substrate to escape the cold.
When the water surface freezes in the winter, the animals hibernate below the ice.
They may sometimes bury themselves in mud and decaying plant matter or wedge themselves between logs to survive the harsh winter.
If there are snapping turtles in a pond, you may sometimes spot them swimming in the water below the ice in winter.