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Snapping turtle

From Academic Kids

Snapping turtle
Alligator Snapping Turtle
Alligator Snapping Turtle, Macroclemys temminckii
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Reptilia
Order:Testudines
Family:Chelydridae
Genera

See text.

Snapping turtles (or snappers) are large, New World freshwater turtles of the family Chelydridae. The species range from southeastern Canada, west to the Rocky Mountains and south through Mexico to Ecuador. In most of the southern United States, they are referred to as cooters. (In Florida, cooters refer to another group of turtles, including the Florida red-bellied turtle.)

Snapping turtles are noted for their powerful beak-like jaws and pugnacious disposition. They have a muscular build with ridged shells that may measure from 100 cm long in Chelydra species to some 166 cm long in the alligator snapping turtle (Macroclemys temminckii). The latter species is the largest freshwater turtle in the world, weighing up to 100 kg. The common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina) and its subspecies are much smaller, weighing up to 17 kg in weight. In some areas they are hunted heavily for their meat. They may live for 50 years or more.

Snapping turtles have long spiked tails and necks which can reach two thirds the length of their shells, making handling dangerous. They cannot fully retract their head and appendages, relying on fierce displays when aggravated. Their snapping jaws and sharp claws are capable of inflicting serious injury: these turtles are best left alone.

They are poorly suited to terrestrial locomotion, spending most of their time in ponds, shallow lakes and streams; they forgo regular basking. Rare forays onto land occur in June and July when females lay their spherical eggs. Some may inhabit brackish environments, such as estuaries. All snapping turtles are important scavengers, but will also actively hunt fish, frogs and small mammals. The alligator snapper has a flesh-red, worm-like tongue which it uses to lure fish into its mouth.

A snapper and a goose it may be trying to catch
A snapper and a goose it may be trying to catch

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