REPTILES OF THE METRO AREA
METROPOLITAN  NATURALIST
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Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

The snapping turtle is a common aquatic turtle, found in streams, ponds, lakes, and marshes.
Normally these turtles remain submerged in the water, where they can stay for amazing periods of
time. These turtles are occasionally found on land as they travel between waterways, usually on
rainy nights, or when gravid females come on land to lay eggs in the late spring. Eggs are laid in a
shallow hole dug by the female turtle, who then buries the eggs and leaves them. The eggs hatch in
August and September.

Snapping turtles eat just about anything they can catch, including fish, frogs, snakes, small
mammals, and even an occasional baby duck or goose. They also eat aquatic vegetation and small
animals that have died in the water. They can grow quite large, up to four feet long.

As the name suggests, snapping turtles can be very aggressive. They will snap viciously at any
fingers, toes or even larger body parts that come close.

Snapping turtles were a popular food turtle, being used for snapping turtle soup.
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Snapping Turtle
This small snapping turtle was found wandering on land on a rainy spring night.
Snapping Turtle
The serrated back edge of the shell and the alligator-like saw-toothed tail are characteristic of the snapping turtle.
Snapping Turtle
Snapping Turtle
Snapping turtles can be safely carried by the sturdy tail.
The plastron, the shell on the bottom of the turtle, is small and unhinged.
Snapping Turtle
Snapping Turtle