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Common Snapping Turtle

Chelydra serpentina


The common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) is a large freshwater turtle of the family Chelydridae. Its natural range extends from southeastern Canada, southwest to the edge of the Rocky Mountains, as far east as Nova Scotia and Florida and as far southwest as northeastern Mexico.


Snapping turtles are almost entirely aquatic and can be found in a wide variety of aquatic habitats, preferably with slow-moving water and a soft muddy or sandy bottom. They inhabit almost any permanent or semi-permanent body of water including marshes, creeks, swamps, bogs, pools, lakes, streams, rivers, and impoundments. Snapping turtles can tolerate brackish water (mixture of seawater and fresh water). As omnivores, snapping turtles feed on plants, insects, spiders, worms, fish, frogs, small turtles, snakes, birds, crayfish, small mammals, and carrion. Plant matter accounts for about a third of the diet Snapping turtles usually feed underwater to aid with swallowing. Young turtles will forage for food, but older turtles often hang motionless in the water and ambush their prey by lunging forward with the head at high speed and powerful jaws to seize prey.

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Spotted by

Chantilly, Virginia, USA

Spotted on Apr 27, 2013
Submitted on Apr 28, 2013

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