Taking Care of Your Snapping Turtle

DescriptionThe snapping turtle is an inhabitant mostly of fresh waters of central and western North America, especially of the United States. It is also present in Mexico and parts of Central America. The snapping turtle is an excellent digger, particularly at night. Their scientific name, Chelonoid pictus, from the Greek word chelitis, means “to draw”. DescriptionThe common snapping turtle is an adult marine turtle of the genus Chelydridae, of the sub-order Charadriiformes of the order Squamata.

BiologyThis species is distinctly an aquatic animal. It makes its living on the water’s surface, often at the bottom of banks or sloping areas. In captivity, it attains a length of about 11 inches, including tail. Legs are deformed, and the snapping turtle has a thick shell with an “X” pattern in its center. Note that this is not a common species in the United States.

Natural historyThese animals are solitary predators which feed on mollusks, small fish, other aquatic invertebrates, and sometimes crabs. They can be found in shallow waters during daytime and at night when they hunt for their prey. For e.g., they hunt for mollusks at night by lying on the sand of a sloping area. A snapping turtle will often strike repeatedly at a series of targets, in an attempt to paralyze the prey. When it is successful, the snapping turtle will coil around the mollusk, breaking it into pieces with its mouth.

Captive care Taking captive snapping turtles as pets requires patience, determination, dedication, and awareness. They are not easily trained to accept and understand basic commands such as “come”. The best way to teach them is to confine them in a narrow space until they develop a fear of being enclosed. After this, you must repeat the procedure several times until they finally learn to tolerate and trust you. Their diet plays an important role in their survival; you should provide them with a well-balanced diet comprised of live, fresh, and dried foods. Their cage should also be filled with fresh water.

Excessive handling leads to stress, anxiety and aggression toward the owner and others. In the wild, snapping turtles feed by snapping at their food. However, they are given food rewards while in captivity since they recognize that this is what they ought to do. It is important that you take these turtles’ habits seriously, so that you can provide them with a healthy and comfortable home.

Information regarding snapping turtles is readily available. There are numerous books and websites offering valuable information on care, feeding, breeding and hunting. If you are considering snapping turtles as pets, the best approach is to consult with a reputable breeder. Not only will you be guaranteed a healthy outcome, but you will also have the opportunity to meet other snapping turtle breeders and interact in an interactive forum.

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