Reptiles: Snapping Turtle

Photo of Snapping Turtle

In May and June, throughout much of New England, female Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina) risk venturing over land to find suitable soils in which to bury their eggs. Pavement is perhaps their most serious obstacle, with motor vehicles routinely striking and killing turtles traversing roads.

Photo of Snapping Turtle

Chain link fences and stone walls, while not as immediately dangerous, may restrict their wanderings, forcing them to nest in less than ideal situations. Once a female chooses a location, she buries around 2-3 dozen eggs before retreating to her wetland home.

When not wandering on land, adult snappers face few threats. Humans are likely their largest predators, in places where turtle soup is still savored. Their nutrient dense eggs and later the hatchlings are much more vulnerable, serving as important food sources for many creatures including Northern Raccoons, Striped Skunks, Red Foxes, American Crows, and Great Blue Herons. This time of year, it's not uncommon to encounter unearthed nest sites littered with egg shells.

To learn more about these powerful creatures, visit Animal Diversity Web. To view the following images in full-size, click here.

One thought on “Reptiles: Snapping Turtle”

  1. I’m sure below the surface these guys do more for the ecosystems than people realize! Especially in waterways that have nuisance fish species.

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