Thursday, June 7, 2012

Non-Snapping Turtle

"Ugly both in appearance and disposition."

That's a direct quote from the Peterson Field Guide - Reptiles and Amphibians Peterson.

Again: "Large freshwater turtles with short tempers and long tails." Back off Peterson!

You'd be short-tempered too
if you were being pursued
for the chief ingredients
in turtle soup or stew!

The Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) is immediately recognizable:

  • large head
  • thick, long, flexible neck
  • small plastron (lower shell)
  • long tail; which is saw-toothed along the upper side
Peterson later admits they are "usually inoffensive underwater, pulling their heads in when stepped on." No thanks! Your turn, dear reader, to test this turtle's temperament with your toes in the murky depths.

I'm satisfied to know their omnivorous (eats plants and animals) diets consist of: small aquatic invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, carrion, and a large amount of vegetation.

This is the busy season for turtles' egg-laying. A few days ago I discovered two Snappers within a half-hour. Each one was laying eggs at the very edge of the road.Today I saw evidence of two more, freshly covered-up snapper egg caches. These were along the "Lake Trail" in the Pickerel Lake Preserve. (Pickerel)

I frequently see them laying eggs along our officially-designated "Natural Beauty Road". We are fortunate to have three lakes, two streams, Saul Lake Bog (owned by the Nature Conservancy) (Saul Lake Bog) and six wetlands within a mile of our house. Snapping Turtle resorts.

In this rear view, the hind legs are digging v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y; excavating a pit for the numerous eggs that will be deposited, 5" underground.

Did You Know:

  • Snappers rarely "bask"
  • They often pee in this pit to soften the hard-packed dirt, for easier digging
  • The females lay 24-30, spherical, 3/4" dia., white eggs, with a thin, leathery shell

  • Back in 2001, according to my Journal, I uncovered 26 Snapping Turtle eggs in our front yard perennial garden. This is about 50 yards from our wetland, and 300 yards from McCarthy Lake. Don't worry, I reburied them immediately, and later that summer, saw them ambling straight south toward the lake.

That's an interesting scarf of Duckweed she's wearing on her neck.


  1. Does her left side look smarter than the right side?
  2. How would you rank her attractiveness on a scale of 1-10? (You know what a "10" is)
  3. Disposition? I know you've had exciting encounters, especially as kids when you were "testing" its jaw strength.
  4. Can you believe my lens was only 8" from its jaw? My fingers were safely 12" from danger, although I was belly-down on the pavement in the eastbound lane. (little traffic on Conservation Ave. near Ada).

This female's eyes seemed to indicate she was "focused" on the next generation. (You must know though, that she lays them and leaves them... the hatchlings are on their own)

She never moved her head during the photo-shoot; the brief time I occupied her space. She was about the business of procreation.



  1. I love how the moss is growing on this uniquely beautiful turtle. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. : )

  2. The Snapper is an extraordinary Reptile; durable, resilient, tenacious.


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