Snapping Turtle: The Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) is listed as a species of Special Concern, both federally and provincially. If actions are not taken to protect it, it may soon go the way of the dinosaur!
A Gentle Giant
The snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in Canada. While its prehistoric appearance can make it look fierce, it is actually quite harmless. Due to its smaller lower shell (plastron), it is unable to pull its head and limbs into its shell when threatened, unlike other turtle species. In water, a snapping turtle will simply swim away; on land its only defense is to snap. If you don’t bother a snapper, it won’t bother you!
Did You Know?
Snapping turtles will occupy almost any fresh water habitat, but they prefer slow-moving water with soft mud bottom and aquatic vegetation. They are able to swim, but generally prefer to remain in the shallows. They are omnivores, but most of their diet actually consists of dead plant and animal matter, which helps keep wetlands and lakes clean!
Threats to Survival
While hunting and poaching can affecting diminishing populations, it is encouraging to note that, in 2017, snapping turtles were designated a Specially Protected Reptile under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, banning further hunting of snapping turtles in the province.
Habitat loss and road mortality are the greatest challenges that snapping turtle populations face. This species is very long-lived, but it does not reach sexual maturity until close to 20 years of age. The individuals seen on land or crossing roads are generally in search of suitable nesting sites. While adult females lay large clutches of eggs, only a very small percentage of the eggs or hatchlings survive due to predation by animals. As a result, the loss of even a few breeding adults can have a serious impact upon the survival of this species!
Please Speak up!
You can help us protect a wetland complex located within the Township of the North Shore. This pristine environment is home to a number of species at risk, including the snapping turtle, and it needs to be protected!
To advocate for the conservation of this critical habitat, write letters to the local council (firstname.lastname@example.org), local MP Michael Mantha (email@example.com), and the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry (MNRF) Steve Acorn (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Fun Fact! The Snapping Turtle spends so much time underwater that algae grow on its shell; this helps them blend in with their surroundings.
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