Juvenile Common Snapping Turtle
Age Group: Juvenile
Common Name: Common Snapping Turtle
Scientific Name: Chelydra serpentina serpentina
Description:Juvenile Snapping Turtles have a small 2-4” carapace with a large head. Their brown to black carapace is rough and keeled, but will soon become smooth as your turtle ages. Because their head is so much bigger than their shell, they cannot pull it inside for security. This is why they rely on their powerful jaw to bite when frightened or defensive. Common snappers have a small white to black plastron and a saw-toothed tail. Their highly mobile head and neck require a keeper to exercise caution when handling. Common Snapping Turtles cannot be shipped into the following states; California, Hawaii, New York, Oregon and Illinois.
Origin: These turtles originate from all the way down in Mexico, up to Canada. They can be found in most waterways in the United States from east of the rocky mountains to Maine.
Lifespan: Captive specimens often live 25-40 years but 50 years or longer is possible.
Habitat in captivity: Juvenile Common Snappers can be housed in a 20 to 40 gallon aquarium setup. This species is highly aquatic, requiring deep water to swim around in. Rather than basking, Common Snappers prefer to float at the top of the water in live plants to soak in the UV rays that they require. Common Snapping Turtles prefer a sand or mud substrate. You should also offer the following necessities;
- UVB Light – It is necessary to use some form of UVB lighting. Without it, your turtle will suffer from a crippling bone disease and early death. UVB is necessary for your turtle to properly metabolize calcium and to grow a perfect shell. These lights need to be changed every 6 months if you are using a Coil Bulb or every year with a Mercury Vapor Bulb
- Basking Light and UVA – UVA rays are necessary to encourage proper feeding responses and behavior in reptiles. Maintain a proper basking temperature of the high 80's for juvenile turtles.
- Heat – Water temperatures should be maintained at approximately 75 to 85 degrees. This species is extremely cold tolerant and are often seen moving under ice in the wild. That being said, heat is still a necessity and can be provided by using a submersible water heater.
- Filtration – Good water filtration is necessary to maintain a healthy living environment free of ammonia and other harmful toxins.
- Habitat Décor – Other than the bare necessities of deep water and an area to bask, the rest of the decorations are up to the owner. This species does prefer a sandy or muddy substrate and live plants are a great water filter and natural basking medium. Other cage decorations can include ornaments and Driftwood.
Diet: Common snapping turtles are omnivores. They will readily eat a wide variety of foods. There are commercially available diets, like those from Zilla or ReptoMin. Along with that they can be fed feeder fish, feeder crickets, earthworms, krill, blood worms, occasional crayfish and ghost shrimp, aquatic plants (such as Water Lilies, Water Hyacinth, Duckweed, Anacharis, Water Lettuce, Water Fern, Pondweed, Water Starwort, Hornwort, Water Milfoil, and Frogbit), some vegetables (such as Zucchini, Squash, Collard Greens, Beet Leaves, Endive, Romaine, Red Leaf Lettuce, Kale, Escarole, Mustard Greens and Dandelions) and some fruits (i.e. Banana).
Size at adulthood: Common snappers range from 12 to 15”, but reaching up to 20” is not unheard of.
Community Turtle: We do not recommend housing the common snapping turtle in a community tank. This species is known for its aggression and short temper.