Description: The common snapping turtle is a large
turtle, ranging in size from 8 to 14 in (20-36 cm) with a record
length of 19.3 in (49 cm). Their average weights range from 10
to 35 lbs (4.5 - 16 kg), with a record of 75 lbs (34 kg). Their
color varies from tan to dark brown to almost black in some specimens.
Common snapping turtles have long tails and necks and rough shells
with three rows of carapace keels.
Range and Habitat: Common snapping turtles are found throughout
eastern North America including all of South Carolina and Georgia.
They inhabit almost any body of freshwater throughout their range.
Some have even been found in brackish water.
Habits: Snapping turtles are highly aquatic and are seldom
observed basking. At times, however, they may move long distances
over land and many die attempting to cross roads. Although generally
docile in water, common snapping turtles will strike viciously
if captured or cornered out of water. They mate April - November
and typically deposit 20 - 40 eggs in concave nests dug by the
female. Common snapping turtles are omnivores, taking a wide variety
of vertebrate and invertebrate prey, as well as aquatic vegetation.
Conservation Status: The common snapping turtle is not
protected and is considered locally abundant in Georgia. In some
areas it is harvested for food.
Ewert, Michael A. 2005. Geographic variation in the pattern of
temperature-dependent sex determination in the American snapping
turtle (Chelydra serpentina). Journal of Zoology 265(1):
Account Author: Andy Howington, University of Georgia
- revised by J.D. Willson