Thursday, May 04, 2006

little snapper


I happened to see this little snapping turtle the other day as I was walking around the fish rearing ponds at work. I could have easily missed seeing it, it blends in so well with dead leaves and mud and rocks. His (her?) shell was about four inches in diameter; I don't think I've ever seen a snapping turtle that size, although I've seen inch-long babies and large adults.

Even at this size, if the turtle decided to latch on to a finger I'm guessing it could be quite painful. So I just thanked it for the photo opportunity and moved on.

10 comments:

Floridacracker said...

Chuck Berry was afraid of these :)

pablo said...

I'm guessing this one is not a newborn. The mud on its carapice suggests that it has spent a winter at the bottom of a pond. So can you guesstimate how old this one is?

Deb said...

FC- Oh you ding-a-ling! :) I had to Google the reference on that one.

pablo- I'd say at least two years. It hasn't had time to grow this year, and I know the hatchlings are pretty small in their first winter. But being this is a cold climate, three might be a better guess.

Endment said...

You guys play rough--- I thought I was doing good to be able to recognize a snapper --- now I have to figure out its age??? :=)

Pam in Tucson said...

What a sweetie! Thanks for posting this photo. I used to play with baby snappers in the Maryland woods when I was seven/eight. Never even thought one could bite until my father reached in to a pile of leaves ...

Susan Gets Native said...

Your post brought back bittersweet memories of my Dad, who we lost in 2004. The old homestead has a pond, and we always had some critter or another poking it's head up, and many times it was a snapper. I remember my Dad scooping one up from behind with a shovel after it laid eggs near the house...scooped it up and ran...never saw Dad move that fast before!!!

Cindy said...

definitely not a newborn, they're much smaller.. but you're right in that they have a mean bite. We always stop to move them off the road, which isn't always easy because they snap large branches in two.
From one snapper fan to another :)

Deb said...

endment- I did a quick Google search for resources on aging snapping turtles, and found there is no tried-and-true method. So it's anyone's guess.

Pam- they are cute, aren't they?

Susan- Your Dad was a wise man.

Cindy- I was heartbroken once when I saw someone deliberately run over a box turtle in the road. (This was in Missouri). And yes, it's definitely been around a year or two.

I neglected to mention that in my work, setting trap nets, I have wrangled perhaps a hundred of these, with shells from twelve to maybe twenty inches in diameter, out of the nets. Not an easy task; their claws catch in the mesh of the nets and their necks are surprisingly flexible...beware. I have not been bitten yet (knock wood!)

lené said...

What a cutie! The pale, fresh greens in your spring picture are beautiful, Deb. We're probably only a few days behind in leafing out.

Eleutheros said...

The most notable thing I've noticed about snapping turtles is the great distance they will travel from water in order to lay their eggs. I've found their clutch of eggs on ridges 100' higher than the water.

No, that's NOT the most notable thing about them. They are very delicious. Snapping turtle soup is a rare and excellent delicacy.