Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

Identification: Broad gray, brown, or olive (often algae covered) carapace with jagged rear edge. Plastron small, cross shaped. Tail very long, topped with row of large triangular scales.

Common Snapping Turtle
Photo © Jim Harding

Adult carapace length: 8 to 19.3 inches (20 to 49 cm). Michigan's largest turtle.

Habitat: Ponds, marshes, lakes, streams, slow rivers and other water habitats. Fairly pollution tolerant.

Habits: Snappers bask less than other species. They eat almost any small animal they can catch (insects, crayfish, tadpoles, etc.), as well as carrion and aquatic plants. Dangerous if molested on land, less likely to bite under water.

Reproduction: Females bury from 10 to 96 round eggs in a sunny spot, usually in June. The black, long tailed hatchlings emerge in 55 to 125 days.

Range and Status: Common statewide, but locally depleted due to over-harvest.

Related Documents
Snapping Turtle Occurrences Map PDF icon