DEEP: Common Snapping Turtle

Common Snapping Turtle

(Chelydra s. serpentina)

{Common Snapping Turtle}

IDENTIFICATION: A large, distinctive species with a brown-black carapace, with a saw-toothed rear edge. The plastron is very reduced, leaving large portions of the underside exposed. The head is large and the tail is long and plated. The largest authenticated Connecticut specimen measured 445 mm (carapace length) and weighed 19.7 kg.

The snapping turtle is a widespread, hardy, and adaptable species found in all types of water bodies ranging from polluted ponds in urban parks to wilderness areas, as well as brackish, tidally influenced habitats. It is one of the few species of turtles that is common at high elevations within the state. Its adaptability, secretive habits, and pugnacious disposition have helped ensure its survival. None-the-less, large numbers of snapping turtles, especially nesting females, are killed on the state's roads each year. Raccoons, skunks, and coyotes dig up and consume large numbers of snapping turtle eggs, and humans kill snappers out of unfounded fears that they pose a threat to human safety and to other wildlife. Snapping turtles are occasionally eaten; however, the concentration of large amounts of pollutants such as PCBs in their flesh makes regular consumption of snapping turtle meat a potential health hazard for humans.

Turtles | Amphibians and Reptiles in Connecticut