Monday, March 05, 2007

Snapping Turtle

While out on the boardwalk looking for Spotted Turtles (Clemmys guttata), several Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina) were sighted. The female in the image has in her mouth the head of a Bowfin (Amia calva), which she was consuming.

Snapping Turtles have the reputation for being aggressive. On land when they are out of their element, they readily snap in self-defense. However, in the water they are shy and opt for swimming away when confronted. When the turtle in the image caught sight of me, she dropped her meal and began to move away. I retreated to the boardwalk and the turtle returned for her fish head. In fact, that is how Snapping Turtles obtain most of their food. They scavenge for dead or dying fish or other animals.

In late spring and early summer, female turtles will move out of the swamp to find suitable nesting sites on higher ground. These nest sites are often far from water. Though many eggs may fall prey to raccoons or other predators, in 2 to 3 months, some young snappers will be heading towards the water.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Had a chance to get some nice closeups of a large snapper sunning on a rock this afternoon. Deer flies all over his head. Can't figure out what they were after. Seems like the usual blood feast wouldn't be available. Any ideas? Pics available if anyones interested.