How Big Can A Common Snapping Turtle Get

The common snapping turtle is a fascinating creature found in North America. They are known for their aggressive nature and powerful jaws that can easily crush bones. But have you ever wondered how big these turtles can actually get?

Well, the answer might surprise you. The common snapping turtle can grow to be quite large, with some individuals reaching over 18 inches in shell length and weighing up to 35 pounds! In this article, we will explore the factors that affect their growth and what makes these turtles such formidable creatures. Join us as we dive into the world of the common snapping turtle and discover just how big they can truly get.

how big can a common snapping turtle get

How Big Can a Common Snapping Turtle Get?

If you have ever seen a common snapping turtle, you know that they are impressive creatures. They have a reputation for being tough and aggressive, and they can grow to be quite large. In this article, we will explore just how big a common snapping turtle can get.

1. What is a Common Snapping Turtle?

The common snapping turtle, also known as Chelydra serpentina, is a species of freshwater turtle that is found throughout North America. They are known for their powerful jaws, which can snap shut with incredible force. They also have a distinctive shell that is often covered in algae or other debris.

Common snapping turtles are omnivores and will eat just about anything they can catch, including fish, insects, and even small mammals. They are also known for being excellent swimmers and can move quickly through the water.

Table 1: Common Snapping Turtle Facts

Scientific Name Chelydra serpentina
Length 8 to 18 inches
Weight 10 to 35 pounds
Lifespan 30 to 50 years

2. How Big Can a Common Snapping Turtle Get?

The size of a common snapping turtle can vary depending on a few factors, including their age, sex, and environment. On average, male snapping turtles tend to be larger than females. The largest snapping turtle on record was over two feet long and weighed over 80 pounds!

In general, a fully grown common snapping turtle can reach up to 18 inches in length and weigh anywhere from 10 to 35 pounds. However, it is not uncommon for snapping turtles to exceed these measurements, especially in the wild.

3. What are the Benefits of Snapping Turtles?

Snapping turtles play an important role in the ecosystem. They help to control populations of smaller animals, such as fish and insects, and they also help to keep waterways clean by eating dead or decaying organisms.

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In addition, snapping turtles are used in some traditional medicines and are considered a delicacy in some cultures. However, it is important to note that harvesting snapping turtles for food or medicine can have a negative impact on their populations.

4. Common Snapping Turtles vs. Alligator Snapping Turtles

It is important to note that there are two species of snapping turtles: the common snapping turtle and the alligator snapping turtle. While they may look similar, there are some key differences between the two.

Alligator snapping turtles are larger than common snapping turtles and can weigh up to 200 pounds. They also have a distinctive ridged shell and a worm-like appendage on their tongue that they use to lure in prey.

Table 2: Common Snapping Turtle vs. Alligator Snapping Turtle

Species Common Snapping Turtle Alligator Snapping Turtle
Scientific Name Chelydra serpentina Macrochelys temminckii
Length Up to 18 inches Up to 31 inches
Weight 10 to 35 pounds Up to 200 pounds

5. How to Care for a Common Snapping Turtle

If you are considering getting a common snapping turtle as a pet, it is important to understand that they require specialized care. Here are some tips for caring for a common snapping turtle:

  1. Provide a large tank or outdoor enclosure with plenty of water and land areas.
  2. Offer a varied diet that includes both animal and plant matter.
  3. Keep the water clean and maintain a temperature between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Handle your turtle with care and avoid getting too close to their sharp beak.

6. Conclusion

In conclusion, common snapping turtles are fascinating creatures that can grow to be quite large. While they may have a tough exterior, they play an important role in the ecosystem and should be treated with respect. If you are interested in caring for a common snapping turtle, be sure to do your research and provide them with the specialized care they require.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions and answers about the size of common snapping turtles:

What is the average size of a common snapping turtle?

Adult common snapping turtles can range in size from 8 to 18 inches in shell length and can weigh anywhere from 10 to 35 pounds. Males are typically larger than females.

It’s important to note that snapping turtles can continue to grow throughout their entire lives, so some individuals may grow larger than the average size.

How old can a snapping turtle get?

Common snapping turtles can live up to 30 years in the wild, but some have been known to live up to 47 years in captivity. The age of a snapping turtle can be estimated by counting the rings on its scutes (the bony plates on its shell), but this method is not always accurate.

The size of a snapping turtle can also give an indication of its age, as older turtles tend to be larger than younger turtles.

What factors affect the size of a snapping turtle?

The size of a snapping turtle can be influenced by a number of factors, including genetics, diet, and environmental conditions. Turtles that have access to plenty of food and a suitable habitat are more likely to grow larger than those that do not.

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In some cases, snapping turtles may also have stunted growth due to malnutrition or other health issues.

Can snapping turtles be kept as pets?

While snapping turtles can be kept as pets, they require specialized care and are not suitable for everyone. They can grow quite large and require a large enclosure with a lot of water to swim in. They also have sharp beaks and claws and can be aggressive, so they are not recommended for households with small children or other pets.

If you are considering getting a snapping turtle as a pet, it’s important to do your research and make sure you can provide the proper care and environment for the turtle.

Are common snapping turtles endangered?

Common snapping turtles are not currently considered endangered, but they are protected in some areas due to over-harvesting for their meat and shells. Habitat loss and pollution are also threats to snapping turtle populations in some areas.

If you encounter a snapping turtle in the wild, it’s important to leave it alone and avoid disturbing it. Snapping turtles can be dangerous if they feel threatened, and they play an important role in their ecosystems as predators and scavengers.

Snapping Turtles: Everything You Need To Know!


In conclusion, the common snapping turtle is one of the largest freshwater turtles in North America, and can grow to be quite large in size. The average adult snapping turtle can range from 8 to 14 inches in length and can weigh up to 35 pounds. However, there have been reports of some snapping turtles growing to be as big as 20 inches in length and weighing up to 75 pounds.

It’s important to note that the size of a snapping turtle can vary depending on a number of factors, including their environment and diet. Snapping turtles are known for their long lifespan, which means they have plenty of time to grow and mature. By paying attention to their needs and providing them with a healthy diet and environment, you can help ensure that they grow to their full potential.

In summary, while the common snapping turtle may not be the biggest turtle in the world, it is certainly an impressive creature that can grow to be quite large. By understanding their needs and taking steps to promote their growth and well-being, you can help these fascinating creatures thrive in their natural habitats.

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