How long can a snapping turtle hold its breath? (All your Snapping Turtle Questions)

How long can a snapping turtle hold its breath

The Covid19 makes us realize how exciting and delightful it is to learn more about animals, especially for a pet. Everyone has their favorite, but you are undoubtedly reading this article to learn more about snapping turtles. Learning more about these ancient mariners helps you completely understand their characteristics, behavior, communication, and intelligence. But the most important thing is when you have come to discover how personable and charismatic snapping turtles are.

You might be wondering about how long a snapping turtle holds its breath? Unlike sea turtles which are champions in breathing skills, Snapping turtles can hold their breath for only around 20 to 45 minutes. And they possessed an unusual breathing technique called Cloacal Breathing. Cloacal Breathing requires clean water for a snapping turtle to hold its breath. However, according to Scientific American, the white-throated snapping turtles are highly endangered as of 2014. Unfortunately, the waters and rivers are left polluted by waste from the agricultural and mining industries. For this reason, Cloacal Respiration is difficult to execute. Snapping turtles must come to the surface to get oxygen more frequently than usual. And coming to the surface more often endangers snapping turtles as they can be susceptible to voracious predators.

What is Cloacal Breathing or Cloacal Respiration?

What is Cloacal Breathing or Cloacal Respiration?

Cloaca is part of the digestive system of turtles that is at the base of the tail. Cloaca is like an all-in-1 hole. In addition, the purpose for this opening is not only for releasing waste and air but also for reproductive purposes, including laying eggs. Therefore, it is turtle-wise to call it Cloaca rather than bum or butt for many vertebrates. It is another reason snapping turtles can hold their breath underwater.

Fun Facts – According to the researchers of the National University of Singapore, led by Yuen K. Ip said that turtles urinate through their mouths.

Snapping Turtle: Science and History

Snapping turtles are the second-largest freshwater turtle and come from the family of Chelydridae with the scientific name Chelydra Serpentina. Their range is extensive and spreads in the lakes, streams, and ponds of North America, Asia, and Europe. They are known to live a hundred years old and may have existed even before humans, and that’s nearly 70 million years ago. The snapping turtles have a distinctive dragon-like appearance. They have an alligator-like tail, armor-like skin, and dinosaurian arms and feet, and large and pointy osteoderms on their tails. Osteoderm refers to a bony plate of a reptile covered in scale, and as the snapping turtle’s tail grows bigger, it will also get fatter. And at this point, the osteoderm becomes more pronounced like the spikes on the tail of a dragon. However, snapping turtles look different from Alligator snapping turtles. Snapping turtles are the second-largest freshwater turtle in North America.

Snapping Turtle: Science and History

Can snapping turtles breathe underwater?

Technically Yes! But not for a long time. And this is performed through Cloacal Respiration as mentioned above. Turtles are known to hold their breath longer underwater rather than breathing. Take note of this – Just like humans, turtles need air to breathe air and must come up to the surface at regular intervals to allow airflow in and out of the lungs.

And this will all depend on the region, environment, and temperature on how long they can breathe underwater.

Fun Facts – Turtles have larger lung volumes than humans. Amazing right? They have dual functions of the lung and not only that, they can even circulate their blood to move through non-pulmonary arterial blood vessels that include vascular within the heart, not passing through the lungs while turtles hold their breath. Turtles can tolerate the result of low oxygen levels underwater.

Which Turtles sleep underwater?

Turtles have a plethora of varied species in the world. Turtles are known to sleep underwater as they can hold their breath for a long time like snapping turtles.

Which Turtles sleep underwater?

The turtles that sleep underwater are the following:

Snapping turtles
Mud Turtles
Musk Turtles
Painted Turtles

Japanese Pond Turtles
Sea Turtles

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Types of Sea Turtles:

  1. Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Scientific Name: Lepidochelys Kempii)
  2. Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Scientific Name: Lepidochelys Olivacea)
  3. Cheloniidae
  4. Dermochelyidae
  5. Prostostegidae
  6. Flatback Turtle (Scientific Name: Natator Depressa)
  7. Green Sea Turtle (Scientific Name: Chelonia Mydas)
  8. Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Scientific Name: Caretta Caretta)
  9. Leatherback Turtle (Scientific Name: Dermochelys Coriacea)
  10. Hawksbill Turtle (Scientific Name: Eretmochelys imbricata)
  11. Hawksbill Turtle
  12. Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Did You Know?

Some box turtles reported being sleeping underwater when they reached a certain age. Boxies are not aquatic turtles since they are terrestrial turtles. Some pet owners find their boxies sleeping in the water at some point, and it could be unusual behavior. One of the factors to consider why some box turtles sleep in the water could be their region and distribution. Some box turtles live in the swamp and very wet surroundings and most likely will affect the nature of their sleeping habits and may pass down to their offspring. So if you see your box turtle sleeping in the water overnight, try to research more about its parent’s origin.

How long can a snapping stay underwater?

Snapping turtles are species of freshwater turtles. They love underwater so much that they spend most of their lives in the water. That is mainly why snapping turtles can hold their breath in the water. They love to move around the muddy water and hide underneath things like logs, lots of vegetation, or anything that can allow them to sit in that ambush position.

Do snapping turtles go on land?

Do snapping turtles go on land?

Snapping turtles live only in brackish water with muddy bottoms. They spend a lot of time exploring and hiding in the water and hunting foods as they are well-known alpha predators. They rarely venture onto land. You can barely see snapping turtles climbing out of the water, although some do bask on rocks, climb on logs but in most cases, snappers just float and get their carapace exposed to the sun. They also go on land to lay their eggs.

Can a snapping turtle be a pet?

Can a snapping turtle be a pet

People are starting to fall in love with snappers these days for a good reason. Common snapping turtles are prehistoric and with such a character. Are you thinking of a snapping turtle for a pet? Well, think again! First of all, even though you can see them on dealer’s tables or pet shop stores and sell them for as low as ten bucks, they are expensive to raise and capable of insane growth, and as they grow bigger, they also need larger aquariums or places as well to be able to move around. Yes! That’s right! You can pet snapping turtles but do not expect them to be tamed at all as snappers are not tamable, and they always have defensive character, and the best explanation for that is because they have small plastrons. Turtles with small plastrons are vulnerable if they flip on their back, the reason why they are always ready to defend themselves. They are always looking to bite, and that is normal for snappers. A person reported a scary incident that he lost his finger from a snapping turtle’s mouth, so many people fear the bite of these impressive turtles.

What do Snapping Turtles eat?

Humans are delighted and fascinated with snapping turtles due to their ancient physical appearance and the ability to hold their breath in the water. For Snapping turtle owners, or maybe you just caught one, then you might ask yourself what do snapping turtles eat? Little pet snapping turtles can eat fish; in that case, you can buy frozen fish in the supermarket. There are also tons of different turtle foods you can choose from online stores, such as freeze-dried shrimp, gourmet canned food for reptiles, wild sword prawn Nutri stick, dried mealworms, chicken and duck dried turtle foods, and so much more. Choosing foods for your pet using online shops or stores, make sure to purchase from reputable companies, and they are 100% organic and natural. However, there are many commercial food companies these days affirming to keep your baby snappy turtles healthy. On the other hand, wild snapping turtles love to hunt foods as they are sharp in ambushing their prey. Their diet includes primarily fresh live foods, such as frogs, carrions, birds, snakes, minnows, crayfish, goldfish, spiders, fish, worms, and even small amphibians.

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How to feed baby snapping turtles?

Owning a new pet can be worrisome, but feeding your little pet is the fun part of all. Turtles are messy, and even though they are slow, they are still active and playful too. The best way to feed your baby snapping turtle is to put him in a separate aquarium, or you may find a small container with enough space to crawl. Put the food and let it eat all by itself for about half an hour. After feeding time, you can put him back in his tank. Keep in mind to put fresh water in his original tank, so it can drink safely and stay hydrated. Dehydration among turtles can cause health problems and weight loss.

Signs of Dehydration

Signs of Dehydration

It is hard to tell if snapping turtles drink water or not as they live in it. But just like all animals, they do drink water. Knowing the signs of dehydration among turtles is a good indication that you are a responsible pet owner, and your pet will essentially love you for that. A dehydrated turtle will display closed or sunken eyes. And may have dimpled corneas for some severely dehydrated turtles. It may also cause respiratory problems among snapping turtles and affect their ability to hold their breath longer in the water.

Can snapping turtles drown?

We all know by now that snapping turtles can hold their breath underwater, but can they drown? It is essential to consider that even though snapping turtles live almost their entire life underwater, they can still get drowned as well. Snapping turtles need to come to the surface at some intervals to replenish their lungs. When it comes to snapping turtle care, it is necessary to check their surroundings for anything that blocks their way or traps them as they get into the surface. It is also a good idea to learn how to revive turtles when they get drowned.

Common Causes Why Turtles Drowned

It is silly to think that these swimming reptiles can get drowned in the water. Even though snapping turtles can hold their breath longer, they can still choke and drown. But as a matter of fact, drowning is one of the prime causes of premature death among turtles in both wild and captive.

Here are the common causes why turtles drowned:

  • Natural incidents like drowning during mating. Female turtles get too exhausted to get to the surface to breathe together with the male.
  • Drowning due to “man-made” crab traps, which are called BRD (Bycatch Reduction Devices).
  • Error in Husbandry – a loose rock that can become a trap.
  • Plastic Pollution
  • Attacked by predators
  • People accidentally drowning tortoise

Final Thought

Indeed, Snapping turtles can hold their breath long underwater as they spend most of their time in the water. Snapping turtles do fight as they are considered to be predators and always looking to bite. If you want to pet an alligator snapping turtle or common snapping turtle, first and foremost, it would be best to learn about Snapping turtle care and how to raise them. Keep in mind that it takes a lot of responsibility to take care of a pet, and we played a critical role in helping to preserve these ancient mariners.


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