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Snapping Turtles: Family Chelydridae

(1 species) A large turtle with a long tail and a short temper

Common Snapping Turtle

Chelydra serpentina ( in. carapace)
Status: Common but declining

The common snapping turtle is Wisconsinís largest and heaviest turtle species. Its rough carapace is brown to black in color and has a saw-toothed posterior edge. The tail supports a row of jagged dorsal scales and is nearly as long as the carapace. The head has large jaws and a pointed snout with a prominent beak. Its long neck, powerful jaws and aggressive behavior have rightly earned the snapping turtle its name. The often yellowish-colored plastron is greatly reduced in size compared to other turtles, leaving the limbs very exposed from the underside. Snapping turtles live in most aquatic habitats but tend to be most abundant in ponds, lakes and the backwaters of rivers. Both a predator and a scavenger, the snapper feeds on aquatic animals and plants. They will consume almost any animal they can catch. Snapping turtles are important top-line predators in aquatic ecosystems. They are rarely seen basking unless injured, sick, or infested with leeches, although females will occasionally bask above the water to develop their eggs when associated with cool and cold water streams.

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