Chelydra serpentina



This very large turtle has a shell (carapace) up to 18 inches long and a tail almost as long (A,C). Usually a combination of dark brown and green in color, these turtles can reach the age of 30 years. The female lays up to 80 white, soft-shelled eggs, about the size of a golf ball, into a hole dug in soft soil (B) near water. One egg survived (E) on a rainy day in late May. In 10-16 weeks little hatchlings emerge. This one, about a 5 inch long head to tail, was photographed during the first week of July (D). We photographed a female laying eggs on 5JUN13, right in the middle of Stream Trail (H,I). The next day this nest had been raided, probably by Raccoons (K).

Snapping Turtles are common in Fontenelle Forest, in the Great Marsh and in water along Stream Trail. Several females have been seen along Stream Trail digging holes and laying eggs on the same day in late spring. They may then block the trail and will not budge to let hikers pass. They have a nasty disposition and can do serious damage with their strong jaws. Many soft egg shells may then be seen on disturbed ground a day or two after, where the nests had been raided presumably by raccoons.

Snapping Turtles are omnivorous, eating a variety of plants, but mostly a variety of small animals they can catch, including frogs, fish, other turtles and ducklings.

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