An Encounter with the Snapping Turtles

October 30, 2019 Documentaries

Snapping turtles have been around for 200 million years. They were alive well before the dinosaurs. They are large aquatic freshwater reptiles that only live in North America. They are known for their large size and aggressive nature while on land. 

Snapping turtles on a beautiful fall afternoon in Maryland

Their name comes from the method of biting their prey. Instead of teeth, they have a hook at the front of the upper jaw that helps in grasping and then tearing apart their prey. Even though they are omnivorous, and their diet includes invertebrates, carrion, fish, birds, small mammals, and aquatic plants.

The Snapping turtles’ main defense mechanism is their powerful snapping jaws, and the thick claws, which they use to tear apart food and to climb out of the water.

Snapping turtles, photography © Victoria Restrepo

These turtles hibernate for the winter and spend the cold winter months buried in the mud in shallow water. They use dens in overhanging banks, under debris or sometimes they use other animals’ houses. They emerge from hibernation in April. 

Snapping turtles are very primitive and fantastic creatures.

Snapping turtle mating occurs once a year, generally from April through November. Females can store sperm for several years; eggs are usually laid in May or June. During the breeding season, the female digs a hole in the ground. There, she lays 10 to 50 round eggs resembling ping-pong balls and buries them. Incubation takes from 9 to 18 weeks and depends on the weather. The turtles provide no care for the eggs or the young that hatch from the eggs. 

The temperature of the eggs determines the gender of baby snapping turtles during a particular stage of development. This is common for many other turtle species. The temperature within a natural nest can vary so that a clutch can produce mixed-gender babies.

Watch the video. You will be surprised!

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