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Snapping Turtle

Chelydra serpentina


Large aquatic turtle with a big pointed head, long thick tail and small plastron (lower shell). Upper shell may be tan, brown or nearly black but is often covered with mud or algae. In young turtles, upper shell has 3 rows of low keels, but these are less apparent in older individuals. Upper part of the tail has large, pointy scales in a saw-toothed row. Size range: Upper shell length: 8–14 inches; weight 10–35 pounds.


Commonly occurs in farm ponds, marshes, swamps, sloughs, rivers and reservoirs—anywhere there is permanent water. Prefers bodies of water with a mud bottom, abundant aquatic vegetation and submerged logs.


Snapping turtles are typically not known for their basking behavior. These photos were taken at a large pond that is fed by a cool spring-fed stream. In this area, I see snapping turtles basking all the time in the spring.

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1 Comment

CarolSnowMilne 8 years ago

What a great turtle!

Spotted by

Springfield, Missouri, USA

Spotted on May 14, 2007
Submitted on Apr 10, 2011

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