What Do Snapping Turtles Eat?

Snapping turtles eat fish, invertebrates, reptiles, ambphibians, eggs, insects, small mammals, plant matter, mollusks and carrion. The snapping turtle is an omnivore and likely to eat anything that it can handle. It may even eat other turtles.

The snapping turtle gets its food mostly through foraging and ambush. It buries itself in the mud at the bottom of a shallow body of fresh or brackish water with only its eyes and nostrils above the mudline. When prey passes before it, the turtle lunges and grabs it with its jaws.

The snapping turtle's larger cousin, the alligator snapper, is also a voracious omnivore. It lures prey by lying on the floor of a body of water, opening its mouth and wriggling its tongue like a worm. When a fish or other animal investigates, the jaws snap shut.

The snapping turtle can be found in the central to eastern United States and as far north as southern Canada. It grows to between 8 and 18 inches long, and its shell has three rows of keels that grow smoother as the turtle ages. Sometimes its shell is green with algae. Snappers mate underwater, but the female leaves the water to find a nest site on land. There she lays between 25 and 80 eggs, which hatch after about four months.

They live in fresh water, and tend to spend most of their time in muddy streams and ditches with plentiful vegetation. Snapping turtles live an average of 30 years in the wild. They are solitary animals, and they tend to act aggressively towards other snapping turtles when they meet. Snapping turtles' shells are tan, brown or olive green with three ridges running across them. They are most commonly spotted in June, which is when they emerge from their watery homes to nest closer to the edges of streams.

Although good at defending themselves with their strong jaws and quick reaction time, snapping turtles have some predators, including larger turtles, raccoons, foxes, water snakes and largemouth bass. These predators tend to eat smaller snapping turtles, as larger snapping turtles are better able to fight back with aggression.