Common Snapping Turtle

Chelydra serpentina
(Linnaeus, 1758)
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.

My Flickr album for this species is here.

HerpMapper records for this species are here.

 

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