Snapper Stuff

snapping turtle at crow wing crest lodge

TRIVIA #1:  True or False?   Like all turtles, snappers can hide their heads inside their shells.

TRIVIA #2:  What environmental factor determines the sex of a baby snapping turtle?

TRIVIA #3:  What turtle was the basis of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, is a very popular pet, and is extremely invasive outside its native North America?

TRIVIA #4:  How old can a snapping turtle live?

TRIVIA #5:  Are snapping turtles carnivores, herbivores or omnivores?

TRIVIA #6:  How many eggs can a snapping turtle lay?

TRIVIA #7:   For what musical instrument did Native American people use utilize turtles?

Snapping Turtles are common at CWC.   Guests have shared many stories over the years:  having a tug-of-war with one over a string of fish or gleefully watching a batch of babies hatch on the beach during Sandcastle Contest one year in late August.

Reptile Behavior: As a cold-blooded animal, snapping turtles sun themselves to warm their bodies. Unlike other turtles, however, the snapping turtle often remains in the water while doing this, floating at the surface. In shallow waters, Common snappers may lie beneath a muddy bottom with only the head exposed, stretching their long necks to the surface for an occasional breath (note that their nostrils are positioned on the very tip of the snout, effectively functioning as snorkels.   Cool, huh?).

They become less active as temperatures drop. During winter, snapping turtles bury themselves in mud at the bottom of lakes or ponds and hibernate until spring.   (Kim will attest to their ‘stink’ when turtles crawl outta their mud nests and start moving around in the spring.  That “Turtle Crossing” sign at stone bridge next to lodge is there for a reason, as many times guests have had to stop their vehicles to wait for a turtle to cross the driveway.)

baby snapping turtle hatch on the beach at crow wing crest resort

Snapper hatch on the beach at CWC during Sandcastle Contest in late August


#1:   False.  The upper shell of a snapping turtle, called a carapace, is larger than the underneath shell, known as a plastron. This means that when faced with danger, a snapping turtle cannot pull its body inside its shell as other turtles can. The snapping turtle protects itself by having a much longer and more flexible neck that allows it to be able to turn around and bite. The bite of a large snapping turtle would be very painful and could do great harm to a finger, leg or hand. In the water, the snapping turtle will quietly swim away from danger under the surface but on land, the snapper will face an enemy head on and fight when necessary.

#2:  These guys bury their eggs in a bowl-shaped nest, 3-7″ deep in the soft sand to be heated by the sun; incubation temperature determines the sex of the hatchlings. Incubation temperatures of about 74-degrees produce males and temperatures at around 84-degrees or warmer typically produce females.

#3:  (Psyche!  Non-snapper red herring question, ha!)  The red-eared slider is a North American turtle with a pleasant temperament. In the wild, they congregate in groups on logs; in captivity, they need a heat lamp for temperature regulation. It is the most popular pet turtle across the world, and extensive breeding has resulted in some gorgeous color varieties (check out the golden one if you have a moment!). Its popularity as a pet inevitably leads to people dumping unwanted ones into the wild and it is listed by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as one of the world's most invasive species.

snapping turtle baby at crow wing crest resort#4:  Wild snapping turtles live approximately three decades, with those in captivity sometimes living longer. Vulnerable when young, snapping turtles may be eaten by mid-sized mammals such as raccoons, various snakes and large birds. Adults have few predators because of their size and aggressive personality. The snapping turtle population remains healthy in most regions and these turtles have been identified in many wetlands.

#5:  Snapping turtles are omnivores, consuming both plant and animal matter, and are important aquatic scavengers; but they are also active hunters and prey on anything they can swallow, including many invertebrates, fish, frogs, reptiles (including snakes and smaller turtles), unwary birds, and small mammals.

#6:  Snapping turtles bury their eggs deep in the sand or mud and have been known to travel up to 10 miles in their search for an appropriate nesting site. Females lay up to 80 eggs at a time, with 20 to 30 eggs being more common; eggs take nine to 18 weeks to hatch depending on weather conditions. Eggs often hatch in the fall, though this sometimes occurs in the spring. (Mating occurs generally between April and November. Female snapping turtles can store sperm for several years, allowing annual egg laying and year-round mating. Mating occurs in the water with the eggs later laid on land.) 

#7: turtle shell rattleDried snapping turtle shells, with corn kernels inside, were used as rattles by many Native Americans.


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