How To Take Care Of A Common Snapping Turtle

Are you considering adopting a common snapping turtle as a pet or just want to learn how to care for them in the wild? These fascinating creatures can live up to 50 years and have unique personalities that make them a popular choice for many turtle enthusiasts. However, proper care and attention are key to ensuring their longevity and happiness.

In this guide, we’ll explore the essentials of taking care of a common snapping turtle, from setting up their habitat to feeding and handling. Whether you’re a first-time owner or an experienced turtle keeper, these tips will help you provide the best possible care for your shelled friend. So, let’s dive in!

how to take care of a common snapping turtle

How to Take Care of a Common Snapping Turtle

If you are considering keeping a common snapping turtle as a pet, it is important to know how to properly care for it. These turtles can live for several decades and require a specific habitat and diet to thrive. Follow these tips to ensure your turtle stays healthy and happy.


The first step to taking care of a common snapping turtle is to provide a suitable habitat. A large tank or pond with plenty of space to swim and bask is necessary. The water should be deep enough for the turtle to fully submerge, but also shallow enough for the turtle to touch the bottom. The tank or pond should also have a basking area with a heat lamp for the turtle to dry off and regulate its body temperature.

It is important to keep the water clean by regularly changing it and using a filter. You can also add plants and rocks to the tank or pond to provide a natural environment for the turtle.


In the wild, common snapping turtles eat a variety of foods including fish, insects, and plants. As a pet, they require a balanced diet that includes both protein and vegetables. Commercial turtle pellets can be used as a base, but it is important to supplement with fresh foods such as fish, shrimp, and leafy greens.

It is important to not overfeed your turtle as they can become overweight. Offer food once a day and remove any uneaten food after a few hours.


Common snapping turtles are not recommended as a pet for beginners as they can be aggressive and have a powerful bite. If you do need to handle your turtle, it is important to do so with caution. Always approach the turtle from the front and never pick them up by the tail. Use two hands to support the turtle’s body and keep their head away from your body.

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It is also important to wash your hands before and after handling your turtle to prevent the spread of bacteria.


Regular veterinary checkups are important to ensure your turtle’s health. Signs of a healthy turtle include clear eyes, a smooth shell, and a good appetite. Signs of illness include lethargy, loss of appetite, and respiratory issues.

It is important to keep your turtle’s habitat clean to prevent the spread of disease. Regular water changes and cleaning the tank or pond with a mild soap can help keep your turtle healthy.

Benefits of Owning a Common Snapping Turtle

Owning a common snapping turtle can be a rewarding experience. They are fascinating creatures with unique personalities. They also require a specific habitat and diet, which can be a fun challenge for pet owners.

Common snapping turtles can also be educational pets for children. They can learn about the importance of taking care of animals and the environment.

Vs Other Turtles

Compared to other turtles, common snapping turtles require a larger habitat and can be more aggressive. However, they are also more hardy and can live for several decades with proper care.

Other turtles such as red-eared sliders are more beginner-friendly but may not live as long as common snapping turtles.


Taking care of a common snapping turtle requires a specific habitat, diet, and handling techniques. However, owning a common snapping turtle can be a rewarding experience for pet owners. By following these tips, you can ensure your turtle stays healthy and happy for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about taking care of a common snapping turtle:

What should I feed my common snapping turtle?

Common snapping turtles are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. They can be fed a variety of foods including:

– Commercial turtle food pellets

– Vegetables such as kale, carrots, and squash

– Live or frozen prey such as crickets, mealworms, and shrimp

It is important to provide a varied diet and not overfeed your turtle. Also, make sure to remove any uneaten food from the tank to maintain water quality.

How often should I clean my turtle’s tank?

Cleaning your turtle’s tank is important to maintain good water quality and prevent illness. You should do a partial water change every week and a full water change every month. You should also clean the tank and filter regularly.

While cleaning the tank, you should also check for any signs of illness such as a cloudy or slimy film on the water or any unusual behavior from your turtle.

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What temperature should the water be for my snapping turtle?

Common snapping turtles are cold-blooded, which means they need an external heat source to regulate their body temperature. The water in their tank should be kept between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. You should also provide a basking area with a heat lamp that reaches between 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is important to monitor the temperature of the water and basking area regularly to ensure your turtle is healthy and comfortable.

Do I need a UVB light for my turtle?

Yes, common snapping turtles need UVB light to help them metabolize calcium and stay healthy. UVB light also helps prevent metabolic bone disease, which can be fatal in turtles. You should provide a UVB bulb that covers the basking area for 10-12 hours a day.

It is important to replace the UVB bulb every 6-12 months, as the effectiveness of the bulb decreases over time.

Can I keep my snapping turtle with other turtles or fish?

No, common snapping turtles are solitary animals and should not be kept with other turtles or fish. They are aggressive and may attack or even eat other animals in the tank.

It is important to provide a tank that is large enough for your turtle to move around comfortably and provide hiding spots to reduce stress.

In conclusion, taking care of a common snapping turtle requires a lot of effort and attention. However, with proper knowledge and understanding, it can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience. Remember to maintain a clean and spacious habitat, provide a balanced diet, and regularly monitor their health. By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your snapping turtle lives a long and healthy life.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that snapping turtles are not just pets, but also valuable members of the ecosystem. They play an important role in maintaining a healthy balance in the environment and should be treated with respect and care. By taking care of your snapping turtle, you are not only providing a safe and comfortable home for them, but also contributing to the conservation of this amazing species.

Lastly, if you ever have any doubts or concerns about the health or well-being of your snapping turtle, don’t hesitate to seek advice from a veterinarian or an experienced reptile keeper. With a little bit of effort and dedication, you can enjoy the company of your snapping turtle for many years to come. So go ahead, take the first step in becoming a responsible snapping turtle owner and give your pet the love and care it deserves.

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