Common Snapping Turtle
Chelydra serpentina

Other Images of Common Snapping Turtles

The Common Snapping Turtle is South Carolina's largest freshwater turtle. Large adults are usually weigh from 10 to 30 pounds; however, specimens of more than 50 pounds do occur. Snappers have a very prehistoric appearance. The Snapper has a hard top shell (carapace) with pointed scutes at the rear. At birth the top shell is rough and has well defined ridges. As the turtles mature, the top shell becomes smooth. The Snapper has a small bottom shell (plastron) which does not allow it to retreat for protection. The Snapper has a long tail which has a row of saw-tooth ridges down the length. The skin is tough and leathery. The Snapper has a very long, serpentine-like neck. These turtles have large, powerful jaws.

Common Snapping Turtles have very belligerent dispositions when encountered out of the water. Using their long necks the will repeatedly strike in snake-like fashion. This is where they get their common name of "snapping turtle." Their strike is not just for show. They will bite and hold.

Common Snapping Turtles are found throughout South Carolina. Their range extends throughout most all of the eastern United States and as far west as from eastern North Dakato to eastern New Mexico. In most of Florida, the Florida Snapping Turtle subspecies (Chelydra serpentina osceola) replaces the nominate subspecies.

They are potentially found in any body of freshwater from bogs to rivers to lakes. Snappers often travel overland from one water body to another. These turtles are omnivorous, eating most any animal it can capture, carion, and vegetation.

Return to SC Turtle Index

updated: January 25, 2006
Contact: South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians