Montgomery Co., Missouri. June 6, 1974.
I’ve come across many snappers over the years but I will always remember the first one, on a summer visit to a friend’s family farm. We were down at a shallow, gravel-bottomed creek, catching bullfrogs, when a dark brown disk with legs came out of the shadows underneath the road bridge. It slowly moved upstream, and I reached down into the icy water to grab the tail, remembering the handling techniques for snappers in Conant’s Field Guide. It was a thrill to pull it out of the water, and the large ridges on the top of the tail helped me to get a firm grip. It was a fair-sized adult, maybe twenty pounds. Out of the water, the snapper pulled his head back and opened his mouth wide, lunging and snapping at any close object. Here was a beast much like crocodilians, remaining unchanged for many thousands of years, an animal perfectly suited for living on the bottoms of rivers and streams. I never get tired of seeing snapping turtles, and of course these days I know better than to pick them up by the tail. The turtle pictured is an adult snapper from western Kansas.
HerpMapper records for this species are here.