During a recent trip to Hendrie Valley to do some bird photography I had the opportunity to capture some images of a snapping turtle basking on a log.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
In Canada, snapping turtles live in Southern Ontario, as far west as Saskatchewan and as far east as Nova Scotia. They can be found in almost any freshwater habitat, but are most often found in slow-moving water. They prefer habitats with a soft mud or sand bottom as this affords them abundant vegetation. Their range extends throughout much of the United States reaching as far south as Florida.
The snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in Canada. Their lower shell or plastron is quite small. The maximum length of their top shell or carapace is 47 cm, or about 18.5 inches. Unlike most turtles found in Canada, a snapping turtles cannot withdraw into its shell for protection. When threatened the turtle will snap repeatedly to scare away predators.
Snapping turtles are estimated to live up to 70 years and do not typically breed until they are 17 to 19 years old. A single clutch of eggs numbers between 40 and 50.
Snapping turtles are omnivorous and eat aquatic plants, invertebrates, as well as fish, frogs, snakes, small turtles, aquatic birds and relatively fresh carrion. These turtles play an important role in keeping lakes and wetlands clean as about 90% of their diet is dead animal and plant matter.
Snapping turtles are the most prehistoric looking species in Canada with their tails having spikes.
Adult snapping turtles in Canada have very few natural enemies. Hibernating turtles and young adults are occasionally preyed upon by otters and mink. The eggs of snapping turtles are often eaten by raccoons, foxes, skunks and opossums. The snapping turtle is currently listed as Special Concern under the Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007. It is also listed as Special Concern under the federal Species at Risk Act.
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