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The St. Johns River The Intracoastal and Beyond
Snapping Turtle

Snapping Turtle

This is not the kind of turtle you want your kids to keep as a pet! Danny saw this turtle crossing the highway, and, concerned that it might get run over, he caught it and put it in the back of the trailer he was towing and brought it to the fish camp.

Snapping TurtleMaybe it just didn't like being held up by it's tail, but this guy was in a nasty mood! He bristled all over with claws, ridges, and sharp points and had a really mean looking hook on his beak. He hissed and lunged a lot, too.

Being bare-footed I was keeping my distance as I took these photos.

Danny said this was an Alligator Snapping Turtle, and as it was the meanest looking turtle I had ever seen I had no problem believing it!

However...Charles Mann, of the Houston Zoo Herpetology Section, sent me a note telling me "That is a common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) not an alligator snapping turtle (Macroclemmys temminckii)."

I searched the internet for photos of actual alligator snapping turtles and saw that this one does look tame in comparison, so I asked Mr. Mann for a little information on this guy. He was nice enough to write back with the following:

"The common snapping turtle is commonly misidentified as an alligator snapping turtle. As you probably saw in the pictures, the alligator snapping turtle has a much rougher shell than its more common relative and has a much larger head with a prominent "beak" on the top part of its jaw in the front of its head.

Alligator snapping turtles are much larger (and rarer) than their common snapping turtle relative which weighs a maximum of about 50 pounds."

Snapping Turtle

The turtle was put down on the ground, and after a few cautious moments he started walking to the water. I carefully stood on a bench.

As he disappeared into the dark water we all shared a thought - "There goes one more good reason not to swim in this water!"

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