National Aquarium – Snapping Turtle

Common Snapping Turtle

Chelydra serpentine

DID YOU KNOW?

Once they hatch, snapping turtles rarely leave the water.

Exhibit Name and Location:
Washington - America’s Freshwater Ecosystems

Add to Trip Planner

National Aquarium – Snapping Turtle National Aquarium – Snapping Turtle National Aquarium – Snapping Turtle National Aquarium – Snapping Turtle

Common Snapping Turtle

The snapping turtle has a thick tail covered in saw-toothed keels, which is nearly as long as its shell. Snapping turtles are a drab brown with very few markings. As ambush predators, algae quickly grow on their shells, helping them to blend into their environment. The carapace (top shell) is also much larger than the plastron (bottom shell).

Once they hatch, snapping turtles rarely leave the water, with the exception of gravid females that do so in order to find a suitable place to lay their eggs.

The common snapping turtle is smaller than its well-known cousin, the alligator snapping turtle. The common snapper has a longer neck and smooth carapace.

Diet

Carrion, invertebrates, fish, birds, small mammals, amphibians, and some aquatic vegetation

Size

Common snapping turtles can achieve a carapace length of 20 inches and weigh up to 35 pounds.

Range

Alberta to Nova Scotia in the north, extending south to the Gulf of Mexico and into central Texas

Population Status

The snapping turtle is not endangered.

Predators

Snapping turtle eggs are preyed on by large mammals and other predators that might come across a disturbed nest. Juveniles are at risk of being eaten by larger fish and mammals, but adults are rarely attacked.

Back to the Top

A Note From the Caretaker

Snapping turtles live for a long time, and our snapping turtle is the oldest animal in the Aquarium!

Aquadopt