Common Snapping Turtle

Colonel - our albino common snapping turtle. He was wild caught as a baby in Burgaw, NC. He spent 10 years as an indoor pet before being surrendered to the rescue. He now spends his days swimming in our fenced pond and occasionally comes out to do an educational event. He will have a special enclosure in our educational trailer.
Rex - Just a baby, this normal color common snapping turtle was taken from the wild with good intentions. Unfortunately, after spending his first year in captivity, it was best not to return him to the wild. He is currently hanging out with his best friend, Squirt, and will go into the fenced pond when he gets bigger.
Common Name: Common Snapping Turtle
Scientific Name: Chelydra serpentina
Type: Testudines
Diet: Omnivore
Average Life Span: 30 to 70 years
Size: 8 to 14 inches
IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern
Current Population Trend: Stable

About the Common Snapping Turtle

The snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in North Carolina. It is found in all areas of NC. It has a very large head, a long neck, and a long tail, which is saw-toothed along the top. The carapace (top of shell) is large and varies in color from black to light brown. The plastron (bottom of shell) is small and unhinged. Average length varies from 8 to 14 inches in carapace length, while weight ranges from 10 to slightly more than 50 lbs.


Snapping turtles are omnivorous. Their diet is varied and includes aquatic invertebrates, fish, reptiles, birds (such as ducklings), mammals, carrion, and aquatic vegetation. They frequently feed on dead or dying animals.


This is one of the most aquatic freshwater turtles found in the state. However, individuals of all sizes can be found on land, especially nesting females. In the water snapping turtles are powerful swimmers, but will frequently walk along the bottom. These turtles rarely bask on logs, but will sometimes “bask” while floating at the water’s surface.


Snapping turtles can be found in nearly all permanent water bodies, but they prefer water bodies with soft bottoms and abundant aquatic vegetation. Small individuals can be found in streams. Individuals have also been found in brackish water along the coast.


Snapping turtles lay between 11 and 83 round eggs during the late spring and summer. Females may walk a considerable distance from water to lay their eggs, and are frequently hit by motor vehicles while crossing roads.


Snapping turtles get their name from their defensive behavior. Many individuals, especially those taken out of the water, will bite readily with their strong jaws if approached. Snapping turtles are economically important as many are harvested each year for their meat. Studies have shown that commercial harvest of snapping turtles in not sustainable and will result in extirpation of populations.

Source: Herps of NC