The Snapping Turtle
The Snapping Turtle - Chelydra serpentina
With a surly disposition and a look and pace that left no doubt as to it's determination - a snapping turtle crossed the little grove of trees between the private dirt road and my parent's house. I was sort of amazed that those things could move that quickly. Our dog, a brown lab mix, would run over to it, bark furiously, and then run back to where I was, smile at me to show me that he was indeed a good dog, and that he was determined to defend me against this vicious little intruder at all costs.
Luckily for my dog - he was much taller than the turtle, and much quicker as well. A common snapping turtle is nothing to play around with, as it's bite is uncommonly strong. A snapping turtle can sever your finger very quickly. There is no safe way to handle this creature. Even were you to try to pick one up from it's rear legs, it's neck is so long, and it's jaws so strong - that it can reach around and permanently disfigure your hands.
The Face and Beak of The Snapper, or common Snapping Turtle
The Belligerent Snapping Turtle
I can't help but imagine that this turtle got it's name from it's out of water disposition. I also can't help but imagine that the only reason that I've never heard of anyone being injured by one of these turtles is that it's disposition and total dislike of humans is always displayed thoroughly and so effectively that nobody in their right mind bothers one.
Growing up in Kaufman, Texas - we had little turtles around that we called Box Turtles, and those were pretty much harmless. Of course they'd all have been best off had we never bothered them at all, but after playing with a box turtle. . . .a kid could be mislead into thinking that all turtles are as benign as are the little turtles that I call Box Turtles. But if you saw a turtle in the road, or in the yard - and it was a Snapping Turtle, believe you me, you'd not mistake that thing as anything nice or friendly, or harmless. It's just obvious that this critter doesn't exist for kid owe shits and giggles.
This snapping turtle distribution map is incorrect. I live outside this map's area, and snapping turtles are extremely common where I live
The Snapping Turtle Habitat
Now, I don't know about you, but I was a fearless young boy - and I used to stomp around all manner of pasture and woodland in Kaufman County, Texas at every opportunity. At a very young age I had a BB gun, and I'd go out and about shooting at anything that I could see. Yes, there is a dimple on my forehead for me shooting the brick wall of a house.
You'll put your eye out, kid!
Of course no one hunts or kills much with a Red Rider BB gun. I did, briefly, graduate to a pellet gun, and at twelve years of age I bought a Harrington and Richardson Single Shot Twenty Gauge. Now, I absolutely do not care what you think of the fact that I was twelve years old and ran around freely and unsupervised with a shotgun. If you raise your children correctly, then most likely, your children will be able to run around with an AK 47, if you give one to them. Flush you firearm hatred down someone else's commode. Thanks.
Oh. . . .snapping turtles, yes - the snappers. Most often you do NOT see them on land. Oh they come and go as they wish, but most often in my life I see them from the neck up and in the water only. If you do NOT know what you are looking at, it's very common to think that a snapping turtle's neck and head is just a stick sticking up out of any creek, stream, pond, etc; snapping turtles are basically in their element in such positions, and they've no reason to fear you.
Ever walk along a creek or pond and suddenly hear a large and unexplained SPLASH? Likely what you'd heard was a snapping turtle lurch off of it's log just out of the water, and into the water. Snappers can just hear you stomping about. They know already that they think that you suck so far as them desiring your companionship, and they tend to just opt out of your company whenever possible. Oh don't let it get you down! I assure you - you're better off without the snapping turtles in your social life. You're also much better off with all of your fingers.
The Box Turtle NOT a Snapping Turtle
Snapping Turtles - Size and lifespan
I've seen some very large sticks sticking out of King's Creek, in Kaufman County Texas - that turned out to not be sticks, but the heads of snapping turtles. Now, please don't mistake me and these snappers with the Alligator Snapping Turtle, that massive beast is another thing altogether. The Alligator Snapping Turtle is NOT something I've ever seen in Texas in the wild. If I had seen one, I'd have ran as fast as I could. . . .for a camera. The common snapping turtle, however, is not exactly a small thing. They can weight up to seventy five pounds.
I've heard of it - but I've never seen it or had any - but some people hunt these things for their meat, and make something called turtle soup with that. I'm not so bashful about food when I'm hungry, so maybe I'll give it a try some day. I only have no idea where in the world one would find such a meal. I'm going to make a guess that such cuisine could be had in Louisiana more frequently than in Texas.
I suppose that if the United States Government, ruled bymulti-national corporations and their masters - who seek global governance - continue on with the full sale desecration of the Untied States that more and more individuals will be eating things like snapping turtles. I'll be right there with them. Hunger is hunger. But left alone in the wild a snapping turtle can live a long and, I suppose, happy turtle life. Thirty years is not an average - but an estimated life span of one of these in the wild. In captivity, snapping turtles have lived as long as forty seven years.
The Carapace or "shell" of the Snapping Turtle
A Turtle's carapace is what we commoners call the turtle's shell. I should clarify what was stated earlier about snapping turtles weighing as much as seventy five pounds - that weight is only achieved, or approached in captive snapping turtles - thirty five pounds is a more realistic upper end size and weight for a snapping turtle in the wild, and such a turtle will often have a carapace of twenty inches, roughly, in length.
The dinosaur like ridges of the snapping turtle's carapace are more sharp and pronounced in younger turtles. It's clear that this armor is mostly impenetrable to predators in the wild.
Snapping Turtles - Observe the Carapace
Snapping turtles - Their Diet
A snapping turtle isn't a picky eater. The snapping turtle is an omnivorousness sort of creature, but they do have their preferences. Though a snapping turtle will eat plant life, the snap of this creatures jaws should have implied that it is mostly a carnivorousness sort, and finds fish, frogs, snakes, and other turtles more yummy than other things. Like other manner of creatures, snapping turtles are not adverse to making meals of others of it's own order. Yes, the snapping turtle eats other turtles, they'd make fine board members and stock holders of multi national corporations - and would certainly make the good old boys club in the United States aristocracy.
A snapping turtle may have it's favorite meals, but it is likely to eat anything that it can swallow. It's also rather plain to see that the snapping turtle isn't the creature to avoid becoming something's meal itself with speed of escape. Anything that can catch it and not be injured by it's jaws is likely to enjoy a bit of it, so much the more if it can penetrate it's carapace.
A Young Snapping Turtle -A Meal For The Great Blue Heron
Why Did The Snapping Turtle Cross The Road?
TO GET TO THE OTHER SIDE!
Snapping turtles prefer to either be in the water, or just out of the water basking on a fallen log - if you see one travelling, then he or she is surely searching for "greener pastures," so to speak.
It could possibly be a hard one to wrap the ol noggin' around for those raised in a purposefully dumbed down Rockefeller America - but turtles lay eggs. I know - I thought that only chickens lay eggs too at one point, but the facts are that there is more in the heavens and Earth, Horatio, than is found in your materialism philosophy.
Seeing a snapping turtle on land and away from a body of water is a sure indication of one of a few things - overpopulation, the loss of it's previous habitat, or it's searching for a good place to lay it's eggs. Female snapping turtles are masters of conservation of male snapping turtle sperm - they can save it for years at a time, and use it when they find it convenient
Female snapping turtles dig holes, and deposit anywhere from twenty five to eighty eggs into it, then they cover the egg filled hole up with dirt for incubation and protection. The hatching of the eggs is mostly dependent upon the temperature, and usually occurs over the Winters.
Show Some Respect - Do Not Act Like This Fool, Leave The Snapping Turtle ALONE!
What's Special About A Snapping Turtle?
The Snapping Turtle is mostly known for being unfriendly. You shouldn't hold the snapping turtle's disposition against him, it's not personal. The Snapping Turtles of this world are the only turtles that can not hide their entire body inside of their carapace or shell, and for that reason, they have developed a demeanor that belies no misinterpretation. They don't want anything to do with you, and you should enjoy your life without them.
Somehow somebody somewhere decided that snapping turtles make good pets - nothing could be further from the truth, however, and invasive snapping turtles have been found in places like Italy. The Italians surely do not need American snapping turtles in their beautiful country, and the only way that they'd ever got there in the first place was because damned fools brought them there as pets, and then discarded them.
It is a common misconception that common snapping turtles may be safely picked up by the tail with no harm to the animal; in fact, this has a high chance of injuring the turtle, especially the tail itself and the vertebral column. - that from Wikipedia, and thus my disgust with the cretin in the photo above.
Also from the Wikipedia article about Snapping Turtles:
The common snapping turtle is not an ideal pet. Its neck is very flexible, and the turtle can bite its handler even if picked up by the sides of its shell. The turtle can amputate a finger with its powerful jaws. It will make a hissing sound when it is threatened or encountered; however, when in the water and unprovoked, they are fairly docile toward humans.
Friends, nature is to be appreciated - it's not to be abused or "owned," and neither are you. Show some respect for nature, and maybe it will be returned to you in kind.
© 2011 Wesman Todd Shaw