What Does A Common Snapping Turtle Eat

Have you ever wondered what a common snapping turtle eats? These fascinating creatures are known for their sharp beaks and powerful jaws, but what exactly do they use them for? In this article, we will explore the dietary habits of the common snapping turtle and discover some surprising facts about their eating habits.

From fish and frogs to plants and invertebrates, common snapping turtles have a diverse diet that varies depending on their age and habitat. Join us as we dive deeper into the world of these formidable reptiles and uncover the secrets of what makes up their daily menu.

what does a common snapping turtle eat

What Does a Common Snapping Turtle Eat?


The common snapping turtle, or Chelydra serpentina, is a freshwater turtle that is native to North America. These turtles are known for their aggressive behavior and powerful jaws, and they can grow up to 18 inches in length and weigh up to 35 pounds. But what do they eat? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the diet of the common snapping turtle.

Natural Diet

The common snapping turtle is an opportunistic feeder, which means that it will eat just about anything it can catch. Some of the foods that make up the natural diet of the common snapping turtle include fish, frogs, snakes, birds, small mammals, and even other turtles. They also eat carrion, which is the flesh of dead animals.

In addition to animal prey, the common snapping turtle will also eat plant material. They have been known to consume aquatic plants, such as water lilies and duckweed, as well as terrestrial plants, such as berries and fruits.

Captivity Diet

If you are keeping a common snapping turtle as a pet, it is important to provide it with a varied and balanced diet. The majority of its diet should consist of animal protein, such as fish, live or frozen, insects, worms, and even small rodents.

It is important to note that feeding your snapping turtle a diet that is too high in protein can lead to health problems, such as kidney damage. Therefore, it is recommended that you feed your turtle a diet that consists of 60-70% animal protein and 30-40% plant material.


In order to ensure that your common snapping turtle is receiving all of the necessary nutrients, it is important to provide it with supplements. One of the most important supplements is calcium, which is essential for healthy bones and shell development.

You can provide your turtle with calcium supplements by adding a cuttlebone or eggshells to its diet. You can also dust its food with a calcium supplement powder that is specifically designed for reptiles.

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Feeding Tips

When feeding your common snapping turtle, it is important to keep a few key tips in mind. First, make sure that the food is the appropriate size for your turtle. If the food is too large, your turtle may choke or have difficulty swallowing it.

Second, make sure that the food is fresh and free of parasites. If you are feeding your turtle live food, such as insects or worms, make sure that they are gut-loaded, which means that they have been fed a nutritious diet before being fed to your turtle.

Finally, it is important to establish a feeding schedule for your turtle. Young turtles should be fed every day, while adult turtles can be fed every other day or every few days.

Benefits of a Balanced Diet

Providing your common snapping turtle with a balanced diet has numerous benefits. A balanced diet will help to ensure that your turtle is healthy and has a strong immune system. It will also help to prevent health problems, such as metabolic bone disease, which is common in turtles that are fed a diet that is too high in protein.

In addition, a balanced diet will help to promote healthy growth and development, which is especially important for young turtles.

Common Snapping Turtle Vs Other Turtles

When it comes to diet, the common snapping turtle is unique in that it is more carnivorous than most other turtles. Many other turtle species are primarily herbivores, which means that they eat mostly plant material.

However, some turtle species, such as the red-eared slider, are omnivores, which means that they eat both plant and animal material.


In conclusion, the common snapping turtle is a carnivorous freshwater turtle that will eat just about anything it can catch. If you are keeping a common snapping turtle as a pet, it is important to provide it with a varied and balanced diet that consists of both animal and plant material. By doing so, you can help to ensure that your turtle is healthy and thriving.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn about the common snapping turtle’s diet and feeding habits with these frequently asked questions.

What is a common snapping turtle’s diet?

Common snapping turtles are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. Their diet includes a variety of foods such as fish, insects, amphibians, reptiles, crustaceans, and plants. They are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will eat whatever is available and easy to catch.

As they age, common snapping turtles tend to eat more plant material and become less reliant on animal prey. They have been known to eat carrion or dead animals as well, making them important scavengers in their ecosystem.

How much do common snapping turtles eat?

Common snapping turtles are known to be voracious eaters. They have a high metabolism and can consume up to 10% of their body weight in food per day. However, their feeding habits can vary depending on the season and availability of food. During the winter months, snapping turtles will go into hibernation and may not eat at all.

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It’s important not to overfeed captive snapping turtles as they can become obese and develop health problems. A balanced diet that includes a variety of foods is key to keeping these turtles healthy and thriving.

Do common snapping turtles hunt for their food?

Common snapping turtles are active hunters and will actively pursue their prey. They are known for their powerful jaws and sharp beaks, which they use to catch and eat their food. Snapping turtles will often bury themselves in mud or sand to ambush their prey, making them difficult to spot.

In addition to hunting, snapping turtles will also scavenge for food. They are opportunistic feeders and will eat whatever is available and easy to catch, including carrion or dead animals.

Can common snapping turtles eat fruits and vegetables?

Yes, common snapping turtles can eat fruits and vegetables as part of their diet. However, they should not be the sole source of food for these turtles. A balanced diet that includes both animal and plant material is important for their health and well-being.

When feeding fruits and vegetables to snapping turtles, it’s important to choose safe and nutritious options. Some good choices include dark leafy greens, squash, carrots, and apples. Avoid feeding them citrus fruits or anything high in sugar.

Do common snapping turtles eat human food?

Common snapping turtles can eat some human foods, but it’s not recommended to feed them table scraps or processed foods. These items do not provide the necessary nutrients and can lead to health problems for the turtles.

It’s best to stick to a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods such as fish, insects, fruits, and vegetables. This will help ensure that the snapping turtles are getting all of the nutrients they need to stay healthy and thrive.

Snapping Turtles: Everything You Need To Know!

In conclusion, the common snapping turtle is not a picky eater and will consume almost anything that it can catch. Their diet changes as they grow and develop, but they typically eat fish, insects, crayfish, frogs, and even small mammals. These turtles use their sharp beaks to crush their prey and their strong jaws to tear it apart.

It is interesting to note that while the common snapping turtle is considered an omnivore, it is known to have a preference for meat. In fact, some studies have shown that they may even be cannibalistic, attacking and consuming smaller members of their own species.

Overall, the common snapping turtle is a fascinating creature with a diverse diet and unique feeding habits. As with any animal, it is important to respect their natural feeding behaviors and not interfere with their ecosystem.

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