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 Snapping Turtle Facts

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PostSubject: Snapping Turtle Facts   Fri May 28, 2010 6:59 pm

Snapping Turtle Facts
By Sonia Nair

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Common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

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Alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii)

Snapping turtles are among the largest freshwater turtles in the world. Read on for more information about some interesting snapping turtle facts.

Snapping turtles are the common name for the two different species of freshwater turtles that belong to the family Chelydridae. The two species are Chelydra serpentina of the genus Chelydra and Macrochelys temminckii of the genus Macrochelys. While Chelydra serpentina is commonly known as common snapping turtle, Macrochelys temminckii is popular as alligator snapping turtle. These two species are mainly found in North America and it is believed that this family had many other species that are extinct now. This article will provide you with some interesting snapping turtle facts.

The snapping turtles are among the largest freshwater turtles in the world. In fact, the alligator snapping turtles are the largest freshwater turtles in North America, followed by the common snapping turtle. While, the alligator snapping turtles are mostly found in the southern waters of the United States, the common ones can be seen from South America to Canada. Common snapping turtles are often found at higher altitudes, as compared to their counterparts and they inhabit shallow ponds, lakes, or streams. Moreover, they are not considered as endangered species and are not that rare.

Facts About Snapping Turtles

Now, you know that snapping turtles are among the largest freshwater turtles and there are only two surviving species. They are the common snapping turtle and the alligator snapping turtle. The latter is bigger in size, as compared to the former. Let us take a look at some of the snapping turtle facts.

* Both common and alligator snapping turtles are aquatic creatures, that spend most of their life in water. They can lie at the bottom of the water body for very long time, stretching their neck for occasional breathing. The females come out of the water for nesting and sometimes these turtles are found to bask in the sun. It has been observed that most of the snapping turtles can spend three to four hours continuously under the water.

* Both species can be distinguished from their size, but, the most striking feature of alligator snapping turtle is the spikes on their carapace. While, both have ridged carapaces, alligator snapping turtle has three rows of spikes on the carapace, that has raised plates.

* Common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) has a highly flexible and mobile head and neck and the name 'serpentina' is derived from this feature, which is compared to the movements of snakes.

* In case of common snapping turtle, the smooth carapace can be tan, brown, olive or black in color. They have large heads, muscular legs with strong and long claws and long tail. They have a lifespan of around 30 to 40 years. These turtles are found to possess nodules on legs, neck and tail. While, an average adult common snapping turtle can weigh between 5 to 16 kilograms, there are some exceptionally large ones with a body weight of around 35 to 40 kilograms.

* Alligator snapping turtles are characterized by large head and spiky carapace that can be gray, brown, black, or olive-green in color. They have fleshy filamentous eyelashes and radiating yellow pattern around the eyes. An average adult can weigh up to 80 kilograms, but, there are larger ones with a body weight of around 115 kilograms. Males are larger than females and possess longer and thicker tails. This turtle has a pink appendage on the tip of the tongue, so that they can use it to lure fish. Lifespan can be between 20 to 70 years.

* In general, snapping turtles are very much aggressive and snaps at anything, when confronted on land, but, underwater, they are found to slip away quietly, even if they are threatened. They strike at the enemies and prey with a very high speed and so, they are compared to snakes. They have powerful jaws, sharp mandibles and strong claws to defend and attack. They can inflict harmful bites too. So, these turtles are not recommended to be raised as pets and in some regions, it is not legal to keep them as pets. You have to handle them with utmost care, so as to avoid the bites.

* Snapping turtle food differs slightly with the species. While common snapping turtles are omnivores that feed on plant and animal matter, alligator snappers are mostly carnivorous. They feed on live and dead fish, snakes, turtles and even small alligators, birds and even mammals. Mating takes place once a year and the female lays around 10 to 50 eggs, at a time. It will take around 3 to 4 months for the eggs to hatch.

Now, you have a basic idea about some snapping turtle facts, including snapping turtle habitat, diet, behavior, physical features, etc. These turtles are not recommended as pets, as they are very aggressive and grow to much bigger sizes. So, if you want to raise one of these turtles as pet, you must have a thorough understanding about snapping turtle care. It is always better to avoid handling of these turtles, but, if it is unavoidable, then, do it with utmost care and caution.
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