There are two types of snapper turtles, or snapping turtles – the common snapper turtle and the alligator snapper turtle.

The Common Snapper Turtle

Snappers live in estuaries, shallow lakes, ponds, or streams. They are omnivorous creatures that feed on plants and animals alike. They eat anything they can swallow, including birds, fish, frogs, mammals, reptiles, snakes, and smaller turtles,

When common snapping turtles bask, they either do it by floating on water, their carpaces the only part of them above water, or they may also walk to land and bask under the sun.

The common snapping turtle is named so because of its speed and power to snap down its jaws. In fact, a large adult snapper turtle can bite off a finger or a toe.

Handling a snapper turtle by its tail can injure it, despite contrary beliefs. You can injure its tail and the vertebral column if you pick it up by its tail, and especially if you do not handle it with care. But because it bites viciously, it is safer to move it quickly using a shovel. It can also stretch its neck halfway back across its own shell or carapace to bite you, if ever you attempt to lift it.

Be careful when lifting a snapper because it might musk, defecate, or urinate on you. They are also quite slippery, so if you lift it, make sure to keep it close to the ground, in case it attempts to bite you or if you are close to dropping it.

Fortunately, a snapper raised in captivity may become docile and show preference to its owner of handler.

The Alligator Snapping Turtle

The alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) is the largest freshwater turtle that can be found in North America. It is less aggressive than the common snapping turtle.

Alligator snapping turtles are hard to keep as pets because of the size and weight they can reach, and the specific requirements they will need. Although they are not as prone to biting as the common snapping turtle, the alligator snapping turtle can still deliver a bite than can sever fingers or toes.

It also has in its tongue an appendage shaped much like a worm. The turtle uses this to catch fish. The turtle simply lies in the water without making any movements, opens its mouth wide and uses the tongue shaped like a worm to lure the fish. The snapper then closes its mouth quickly and eats its unsuspecting victim.

Snapping turtles reach maturity at around 12 years. They mate yearly. The female turtle makes a nest and lays 9-52 eggs two months later. The temperature at which the eggs are incubated will determine the sex of the baby snapping turtles.

A snapper turtle is endangered in some states and other parts of the world because it is being hunted for its meat, shell, and skin. They are already protected, but it would help if everyone would be vigilant of its plight.

Turtle Tanks Tip #1

Remember that turtles are not all alike. Each different species and sub species require different housing, feeding and water needs. Only after you have properly identified your turtle can you create the perfect environment for raising it. Therefore, your first concern should be to clearly identify what species your pet turtle is.

Turtle Tanks Tip #2

Aquatic turtles should be kept in aquariums that have fairly deep water, a basking area, and heat and light sources. Turtles that are mostly terrestrial still need to have some water but should not be kept in aquariums. They will be happier in wide wooden or plastic enclosures that contain the right substrate and a wading dish.

Turtle Tanks Tip #3

Be sure to wash and sterilize anything you pick up from the yard before placing it in the turtle tank. Don’t add any decorations in the tank that are sharp, pointed, or small enough that your turtle could potentially swallow them.