Native to the continents of America, snapping turtles have the reputation of being quite feisty, non-friendly, and massive in size and its fondness for biting for snapping. No doubt, the last characteristic is what got these turtles their name.
While they sound intimidating, snapping turtles can be very vulnerable before they reach a certain age. The eggs and the hatchlings are the most vulnerable ones as a lot of predators can eat the eggs and the hatchlings as their shells are not strong enough.
Is your little one interested to know more about these scary turtles? If so, then we have made a list of 11 amazing snapping turtle facts for kids that you and your little one will surely enjoy.
11 Interesting & Fun Facts about Snapping Turtles for Kids
Snapping turtles are one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world and are known to be not friendly at all. They are usually found underwater, where they cannot have any contact with human beings.
With that introduction out of the way, lets us get into the facts-
1. They have really strong jaws and bite
You might not want to mess with the snapping turtles. While the strength is not extraordinary, but it is also nothing to be made fun of.
A bite of a snapping turtle is capable of biting fingers clean off. The sheer strength of the jaws of these turtles was demonstrated when, during an experiment, the turtle was able to break off a wooden broomstick in half in two bites!
2. Snapping turtles have longer necks and spiky tails
When you look at a photo of a snapping turtle, you will be surprised to notice how long their necks are. You can almost immediately distinguish an ordinary turtle from a snapping turtle by taking a look at its tail as well. This is because they have very long and spiky tails.
They also have bigger noses and heads with tall ridges on their shells.
3. Snapping turtles are the only ones that cannot go inside their shells
When we think of turtles, the only thing we all know is that when they are threatened, they hide inside their shells.
But, that is not the case for snapping turtles. These turtles have smaller shells compared to their bodies and, as a result, cannot retract fully into them. But don’t let that fool you, as these turtles are ready to bite in case they feel threatened.
4. Snapping turtles are omnivores and can even eat other turtles
Snapping turtles will eat anything and everything that comes in their way. They are omnivore, which means that eat both plants and meat of other animals. They will eat fish, snakes, fungi and, even raccoons (if they manage to kill them).
They will also eat other species of turtles and tortoises! These creatures are not at all picky eaters!
In case you want to know more about Tortoises, you can check out our article on the same here- 11 Amazing Tortoise Facts for Kids
5. They are native to America and can be found only there
Snapping turtles, along with all their subspecies, are native to both the continents of America (North and South). This effectively makes them quite exotic around the rest of the world. Unless, taken out of the continents, these turtles cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
In fact, they are so much imbibed in America that in the 19th century, cartoonist Alexander Anderson made the creature immortal by including it in a series of political cartoons!
6. Snapping turtles are quite important as they are considered state reptiles
Yes, you read that correctly. One of the snapping turtle species, the Common Snapping Turtle, is recognized as New York’s official state reptile.
This happened back in the year of 2006 and the elementary school children were asked to choose the state reptile!
7. Some people love having snapping turtle soup
Yes, you read that right. Even after being so dangerous, they are still used to make food. In many parts of America, turtle soup is very common and considered to be a delicacy.
For soup preparation, snapping turtles are considered to be the best ones and are preferred for making the soup.
8. These creatures are not people friendly at all
It might be very difficult for anyone to try and keep snapping turtles as pets. This is because; snapping turtles really hate human interaction. As much as possible, they will try to avoid human beings altogether.
In case humans try to get a hold of them, bites become the only other option that is there.
9. Snapping turtles can be really large in size
While most of the species are not really big to notice, the alligator snapping turtles can grow into massive sizes. They can easily make the rest of their cousins, look like dwarfs. In fact, alligator snapping turtles are one of the biggest freshwater turtles in the world!
In Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, the largest alligator snapping turtle, who is about 249 pounds, is still alive.
10. One species of the snapping turtles use an oral lure to get fish
The alligator snapping turtles have a unique way of luring fish underwater. Their tongues are pink in color, and really wiggly that gives them a wormlike appearance.
The turtles lie with their mouths open, exposing the tongue at the bed of the water body. The fish are lured in because they think it’s a worm, and once they get close enough, the turtles can close their jaws shut!
11. One should never lift a snapping turtle by its tail
Because snapping turtles have longer tails, people often try to pick them up by using their tails. However, that should never be done because the tail is an extension of their spine. Handling the tail can cause significant damage to their vertebrae.
Different Types of Snapping Turtles
For quite a while, scientists were of the opinion that there were only three different types of snapping turtles. But recent studies have proved that there are some subspecies under one of the three types of snapping turtles. We have listed out the various species and subspecies for you. Give it a read-
- Common snapping turtle: As the name already suggests, these are the most widespread species of snapping turtles in the entire of America. These are usually found in freshwater and partly saltwater coastal wetlands.
- Central and South American snapping turtle: They have very few differences from the common snapping turtles. These turtles are found in the Gulf Coastal Plain of Mexico and the Pacific coasts of Colombia and Ecuador.
- Alligator snapping turtle: These turtles are massive in size. In fact, alligator turtles are one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world. They also have a very knobby tail. There are two recognized subspecies of alligator turtles, named after the river that they are found in- (1) Suwannee snapping turtles, (2) Apalachicola snapping turtles
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Snapping turtles are not tortoises as tortoises spend most of their time on land while turtles spend time underwater.
The snapping turtle got its name from its habit of snapping or biting with its powerful jaw.
Snapping turtles are omnivores and eat anything from plants, fungi, algae to fish, snakes and even other turtles.
The scientific name of the common snapping turtle is Chelydra serpentina.
Yes, a snapping turtle is a reptile.
Yes, snapping turtles do eat snakes.
Yes, snapping turtles do eat other turtles.
Baby snapping turtles eat whatever the adults eat; algae, fungi or meat.
An adult snapping turtle can eat two or three times a week.
Snapping turtles live in marshes, rivers, lakes, shallow ponds and streams.
Yes, snapping turtles do live in water, especially freshwater.
Snapping turtles can hold their breath and stay underwater for up to 50 minutes.
Snapping turtles can live up to 40 to 50 years in the wild but can easily cross 100 years in captivity.
Snapping turtles come in all weights from 10 to 22 pounds or even 200 pounds!
Snapping turtles can grow anywhere between 8 inches to 19 inches.
Snapping turtles grow really slowly. They may take almost a decade to reach maturity.
The most important thing to be kept in mind is that never to move a snapping turtle by its tail as it might injure their vertebrae. Instead, try holding them up by the edges of their shells.
Usually, a snapping turtle will have protruding and long necks and really spiky tails. Their shells too, are kind of knobby and uneven.
It is impossible to tell the exact age of a snapping turtle unless one is aware of the day it hatched. However, an educated guess can be made by taking a good look at growth rings on the turtle’s shell.
Snapping turtles have the bite force to cut off human fingers if agitated, so they are pretty dangerous.
Usually, snapping turtles try to avoid human contact as much as possible. However, if they feel threatened, they might attack humans.
On average, a snapping turtle can bite with a force of 209 N and this is strong enough to cut off human fingers.
Usually, snapping turtles can be dark brown or black. Sometimes their shells can be covered with algae and that gives them a greenish hue.
Snapping turtles are in their most vulnerable state as hatchlings or when they are in the eggs. They can fall prey to raccoons, foxes, water snakes, big fish and even foxes. However, the adult ones can fight back ferociously.
That is it, folks! You have managed to come to the end of the article ’11 Amazing Snapping Turtle Facts for Kids.’
We hope that both you and your little one had a great time learning about these reptiles and their characteristics. Always remember that these are wild animals and are not very fond of human interactions. Additionally, they can be quite feisty. So try to not get them as pets.