Snapping turtles show up in the strangest places. We commonly get calls about snapping turtles under docks, in windows wells, in gardens and even “at my front door.” We say “Lucky you!”
The Snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle native to Ontario. It has a round flat shell with serrated edges at the rear. The legs are massive. The feet are webbed and have long sharp claws. The tail is long with a row of “spikes” on the top lending a prehistoric look.
Snapping turtles are semi-aquatic and both males and females often travel long distances over land to nest, search for good feeding sites, and look for mates. The head and jaws are huge and capable of delivering a powerful bite and lighting fast strike with the help of the long and powerful neck. They have a small belly plate (or plastron) leaving a lot of skin exposed. This lack of protection accounts for the nasty disposition when on dry land.
The snapper is in decline but still present in strong numbers in many locations. As of the spring of 2017, it is no longer legal in Ontario to hunt snapping turtles in any number. It is listed as a species of Special Concern both provincially and federally.
For more information:
- Range maps & more @ Ontario Reptile & Amphibian Atlas
- Snapping Turtle Fact sheet (OMNR)
- The Road to Extinction: A special report by Ontario Nature, The Suzuki Foundation, and KTTC about the threats faced by the Snapping Turtle in Ontario.