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Snapping turtles

Like the painted turtles featured in my last column, snapping turtles also take advantage of gravel berms along regional roadways for nesting sites. While driving, keep watch for turtles laying their eggs.


June 19, 2013

As their name indicates, snapping turtles can inflict a powerful bite if threatened. But that’s no reason to fear or harm these impressive reptiles. Enjoy them at a safe distance and thrill to their fascinating physique.

As the largest turtle species in the Upper Delaware River region, “snappers” are can reach a shell length of 12 inches and typically range between 15 to 45 pounds. According to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, an exceptional snapper found in Wayne County, PA in 2006 weighed in at over 60 pounds.

In turtle terms, the top shell, or carapace, is made of large hard scales called scutes. The bottom shell is called the plastron, and in the snapping turtle, is proportionately smaller than in other species. Snappers commonly have long tails with triangular plates.

Snapping turtles are opportunistic omnivores and often walk along the bottom of a lake looking for a meal. Considered to be valuable scavengers of decomposing aquatic animals, snappers in turn are harvested by humans for personal consumption. Research indicates that 80 percent or more of their diet consists of aquatic vegetation.

Visit fishandboat.com/anglerboater/2007/04julyaug/46snapping.pdf to learn more.