What Adaptations Does a Snapping Turtle Have?

Snapping turtles have a strong bite.
Snapping turtles have a strong bite. (Image: common snapping turtle (chelydra serpentina) image by Bruce MacQueen from Fotolia.com)

Common snapping turtles are reptiles commonly found all over the United States and beyond. As they are known for having nasty dispositions, they do not necessarily make good pets. However, they posses unique traits that enable them to adapt to different environments.

Body Make up

The Common snapping turtle has features that have enabled it to survive through the years. It is widely known for it's beak-like mouth, which can quickly snap at it's prey. A snapping turtle's nostrils lie on top of the snout. Having them on top allows the turtle to stay almost fully submerged in water while still being able to breathe. The snapping turtle's body is soft and fleshy, but is encased by a hard outer shell. The top of the shell is called the carapace and the bottom is called the plastron. The carapace is ridged and helps to protect the turtle against predators and climate. Four feet extend out from the shell and are equipped with long sharp claws. While the turtle moves at a slow speed, its can still be a formidable foe. It's neck can reach very far and halfway over the back of it's shell, and the strong snap of the jaws can be quick.


A shallow lake, stream or pond is the ideal choice for the Snapping turtle, however they can live in several other places. A lack of food, overcrowding or pollution could cause the turtle to move to another area. Snapping turtles have been known to travel very far away from water.They are not bothered being out of water, though they have a much easier time finding food when they are submerged or in a muddy area. Snapping turtles enjoy lying in the sun, and have also been seen under the ice in winter, though normally they hibernate.


Snapping turtles are omnivores, which means they will eat both plant and animal substances. In addition to the vegetation that is around them, they like fish, frogs, other reptiles, and even small birds and mammals. The darker color of their shells enables them to hide in the mud, or at the bottom of a body of water, awaiting for unsuspecting prey.

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