Caring for Your New Snapping Turtle
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Snapping Turtle Factoids

Origin

Eastern half of U.S. plus other places

Maximum Size

Nearly two feet.

Housing

Needs lots of room.   Keep out of direct sun.

Security

Not a hider. 

Temperature

Prefers 75 to 80o

Attitude

Not afraid of you

Foods

Anything that lives in water

Water

Hard to keep clean


LA
Is this baby alligator snapping turtle cute or what?  Bet you'll keep this guy out of your mouth.

Origins:  Snappers grow wild in Iowa rivers, streams, and lakes.  They like slow moving water.  You’ll find them over muddy bottoms and in clear running streams.  Finding clear running streams might take you a while.

LA
Sorry, you can't keep snapping turtles in Iowa.

Protected Species:  Like most of the turtles and reptiles in Iowa, the Iowa DNR (Iowa Department of Natural Resources) does not want you to keep snapping turtles in captivity.  You can shoot ‘em, cook ‘em, or drive over ‘em.  You can fry em, boil em, or bake em.  But you better not get caught trying to keep a snapping turtle alive.
 

Isaac F., December 27, 2009
Just something I noticed on your website, thought you would like to have some more information LA.
On your Snapping Turtle page, you have listed that you cannot have a snapping turtle "alive" in the state of Iowa and you say below one of your pictures "Sorry, you can't keep snapping turtles in Iowa."
If you legally buy one from a dealer/breeder you can own them as pets. Also the law in Iowa states that as long as you have a valid Iowa fishing license you can have up to 100 pounds of live turtles, or 50 pounds "dressed", either common snapping, softshell or painted turtles caught from the wild. If you purchase an additional license you can have an unlimited amount of live turtles.
http://www.iowadnr.gov/fish/regulations/turtle.html
http://www.iowadnr.gov/license/commercial.html
Here is a link to the illegal turtles to have in Iowa without a special permit.
http://www.iowadnr.gov/wildlife/files/wildinfo.html
Just FYI.

A:  Hey, thanks.  I read IDNR's website and their printed regulations.  You are so right.  I'll add your correction to my snapper page.  LA

LA
Kept in captivity for a year, this guy was brought in to Aqualand 09/03/08.

LA
He caught him at the size of a half-dollar and kept him for a year.

LA
He was obviously well fed.  Note the length of his tail.

LA
In captivity so long that he no longer snaps.  We turned him loose at
Riverview Island .

LA
Jason Davis caught this guy crossing the road.  His wife was glad to hear he couldn't keep him.

Federal Restrictions:  If you could keep them, federal law requires snapping turtles (and other turtles kept in captivity) to measure at least four inches from front to back – not counting their head or tail.

Name Origin:  Snapping turtles rarely flinch from threats.  They attack rather than run.  They snap first and ask questions later.  Most turtles shrink into their shells.  Snappers will not fit into their shells.  They’re too big.  So rather than try to hide, they bite.

LA
Last thing a goldfish sees as it swims past a snapper.

Biting Beak:  Snappers have no teeth.  None needed.  They have a hard beak with a sort of hook on the top and a smaller hook on the bottom.  With this beak, they can bite thru flesh quite easily – yours included.  Urban legends insist snapping turtles can bite thru a broom handle.  Fat chance.  However, they can bite painfully.

Built-in Fishing Lure:  Snappers loaf on the bottom with their mouths wide open.  Their tongue looks like a pink worm.  Look in the mouth of the baby snapper at the top.  Snapping turtles wiggle that worm as small fish swim past.  Any fish that swims in for a tasty snack winds up as the tasty snack.  

 

LA
Regular snapping turtle snorkeling for air.

Submariners:  Snapping turtles can loaf on the bottom for 20 minutes without snorkeling up for air.

Water Conditions:  Snappers will live in fouler water than you’d want to keep in your house.  However, give your snapping turtle frequent water changes, or your nose will regret it.

Appeal:  People like snappers because they fear their reputation.  Supposedly, snappers can bite a broom handle in half – not likely in real life.  Maybe in thirds?

LA
Snapper necks reach out (fast) as far as their tail is long.

LA
If you hold your snapper by the tail, hold him way away from your legs.

Size:   Snappers grow to nearly two feet.  Their tail gets almost as long.  And look out for that very long neck that can snake out and get you.  Most people carry the big ‘uns by the tail.  Hold snapping turtles away from your leg.

Loners by Nature:  Snappers never run in packs.  They don’t get along well with each other except when breeding.

Breeding:  Female snapping turtles lay their eggs in June and July.  They lay 20 to 40 half-white, half-pink “ping pong” balls in moist sandy soil.  Their eggs hatch about 100 days later. Baby snappers taste good to large birds, bullfrogs, large fish, and some snakes. 

Hatching Factors:  Snapping turtle eggs incubating in wetter soils absorb more water and yield bigger turtlettes.  When incubated at cooler temps, the eggs yield males.  Warmer incubation temps yield females.

Foods:   Snappers eat whatever they encounter – even aquatic plants.  Some will crawl up on the bank and eat dead animals.  Yes, they will even eat commercial turtle foods.  Snapping turtles probably get better food in captivity than they stumble across in the wild.

LA
18-inch regular snapping turtle snooping the bottom for food.

Last Word:  Cooler temps, filthy water, and poor diet often cause snapping turtle problems.  Prevention always works best.  Always wash your hands after handling any turtle or reptile.  LA.

 

2006 Pix:  Here's some more photos we took this year.

LA
Scrappy little six-incher.

Samantha Woolley, Ontario, Canada, November 29, 2006
I was looking at your site.  To be more specific, it was the page on Snapping Turtles. I noticed you were holding it by the tail. You probably already know this, but you should never hold a snapping turtle by its tail. You can kill it by doing that. Its spine goes through the tail, so you can disconnect the spine by doing that.
And also, the page on painted turtles, where you have the picture of the painted turtle climbing out of what it was in, and the caption says "Don't think painted turtles can't climb.  Snappers can't, but these guys can." I do not agree with that. Snapping turtles can climb out of things like that too! I am speaking from experience, they can climb.
I just thought I would tell you these. And yes, I know what I am talking about. I volunteer at a place called the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre, located in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

A:  Thanks for the info.  I did not know that and will add it to my page if my computer ever works again.  LA

MG
Here's Steve Grant showing a better way to tote a snapper.  Gloves don't help much.

LA
His strong and sharp back toenails make him difficult to pick up like a regular turtle.

LA
One night's "production" in a bucket.  Snappers are messy.

LA
Always hungry (and bitey).

LA
His neck is actually longer than this.

LA
Snappers turned on their backs flip over instantly.

2008 Pix: 

LA
New guy (09/10/08) about three inches not counting head and tail.

LA
His owner found him at the size of a quarter one year ago.

LA
Just keeps on truckin.'

LA
Considering eating this marble.

LA
That long neck also comes in handy for breathing.

LA
Scientific Fact:  Deeper water makes their necks longer.

LA
Sort of cute in a chelonian way.

LA
They love goldfish.

LA
They also love cichlids.

LA
they are adept at pouncing on prey.

LA
They use their claws to help tear their food apart.

LA
Snapper on the line (which he broke before he could be hauled in).

LA
He brought in his baby snapper to show us.

LA
Says he found him a month ago.

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