Common snapping turtle

Chelydra serpentina

The common snapping turtle is a large freshwater turtle of the family Chelydridae. Its natural range extends from southeastern Canada, southwest to the edge of the Rocky Mountains, as far east as Nova Scotia and Florida and as far southwest as northeastern Mexico. This species and the larger alligator snapping turtle are the only two species in this family found in North America.
A smile to beguile Several years ago, I had my first introduction to the awe inspiring Common Snapping turtle. The size rendered me speechless (the carapace on this one being around 38 cm). And very quickly, I learned that the wonderful look of contentment and joy that seems apparent on these characters faces is completely misleading....... 

I witnessed first hand, the combative disposition these turtles are known for when out of the water...with their powerful beak-like jaws, large claws, muscular build and highly mobile head and neck, they present a real danger to all who come near.  
Having found itself on the road, this snapper was herded back in to vegetation, well away from traffic.  Chelydra serpentina,Chelydridae,Common snapping turtle,Geotagged,North America,Pennsylvania,Summer,Testudines,United States,Vertebrate,fauna,freshwater turtle,reptile

Appearance

''Chelydra serpentina'' have rugged, muscular builds with ridged carapaces . The carapace length in adulthood may be nearly 50 cm , though 25–47 cm, is more common. ''C. serpentina'' usually weighs 4.5–16 kg. Any specimen above the afforementioned weights are exceptional, but the heaviest wild specimen caught reportedly weighed 34 kg. Snapping turtles kept in captivity can be quite overweight due to overfeeding and have weighed as much as 39 kg. In the north part of its range, the snapping turtle is often the heaviest native freshwater turtle.
Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpentina... photographed in our yard along the Bay of Quinte. Canada,Chelydra serpentina,Common snapping turtle,Geotagged,Spring,nature,snapping turtle,turtle,wildlife

Naming

In Italy in recent years large mature adult ''Chelydra serpentina'' have been taken from bodies of water throughout the country. They were most probably introduced by the unwise release of pets. In March 2011 an individual weighing 20 kilograms was captured in a canal near Rome; another individual was captured near Rome in September 2012.
Little & Large These two snapping turtle characters were being cared for at a rehab centre. The larger being a female and the smaller, a male. She had injuries to her plastron that were healing well and was due for release soon. He unfortunately was found missing an eye and with a significant over bite - staff didn't think he would survive if ever released due to these two issues. 

NB: this single shot was taken and the smaller male was placed quickly back in his tank. 

Female 38 cm length
 Chelydra serpentina,Chelydridae,Common snapping turtle,Geotagged,Summer,Testudines,United States,Vertebrate,fauna,pennsylvania,reptile

Behavior

Snapping turtles have "fierce" dispositions; however, when encountered in the water, they usually slip quietly away from any disturbance. Snapping turtles have evolved the ability to snap because unlike other turtles, they are too large to hide in their own shells when confronted. Snapping is their defense mechanism. However, these turtles rarely bite humans; they usually flee when threatened.

The snapper is an aquatic ambush hunter, capturing its prey with its beak-like jaws.
Snapping Turtle Close-up This snapping turtle was trying to cross the road when I drove by it. I stopped and helped it across, and then took a few snap shots of it. She was a little reluctant; she probably would have snapped at my camera if she could have reached it! Chelydra serpentina,Common snapping turtle,Geotagged,Reptiles,United States,Wisconsin

Habitat

Common habitats are shallow ponds, shallow lakes, or streams. Some may inhabit brackish environments, such as estuaries. Common snapping turtles sometimes bask—though rarely observed—by floating on the surface with only their carapace exposed, though in the northern parts of their range they will also readily bask on fallen logs in early spring. In shallow waters, common snappers may lie beneath a muddy bottom with only the head exposed, stretching their long necks to the surface for an occasional breath . Snapping turtles are omnivores, consuming both plant and animal matter, and are important aquatic scavengers; but they are also active hunters that prey on anything they can swallow, including many invertebrates, fish, frogs, reptiles , unwary birds, and small mammals.

Snappers will travel extensively overland to reach new habitat or to lay eggs. Pollution, habitat destruction, food scarcity, overcrowding and other factors will drive snappers to move overland; it is quite common to find them traveling far from the nearest water source. This species mates from April through November, with their peak laying season in June and July. The female can hold sperm for several seasons, using it as necessary. Females travel over land to find sandy soil in which to lay their eggs, often some distance from the water. After digging a hole, the female typically deposits 25 to 80 eggs each year, guiding them into the nest with her hind feet and covering them with sand for incubation and protection. Incubation time is temperature-dependent, ranging from 9 to 18 weeks. In cooler climates, hatchlings overwinter in the nest.
Although designated as "least concern" on the IUCN redlist, the species has been designated in the Canadian part of its range as "Special Concern" due to its life history being sensitive to disruption by anthropogenic activity.

References:

Some text fragments are auto parsed from Wikipedia.

Status: Least concern
EX EW CR EN VU NT LC
Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassReptilia
OrderTestudines
FamilyChelydridae
GenusChelydra
SpeciesC. serpentina