Even hatchling snapping turtles have large heads, deeply serrated shells, and saw-toothed tails.

The largest freshwater turtle in Massachusetts, snapping turtles may grow to be as large as 20" in shell length. Their long neck and tail may add as much to their length, making these animals attain tremendous overall size. Their shells are typically light gray to black but may have a green cast due to dense growths of algae. The back margin of the carapace is deeply serrated, and the center scutes are weakly keeled. Quite often, especially in older turtles, the center of the shell becomes depressed and actually makes the upper shell concave. They have a strongly serrated or "saw-toothed" tail, and may have huge, curved claws. Given the size of the animal, their plastron is extremely small, covering little of their body.

Despite their reputation, they are hard to rouse if they are in the water, even when stepped on. They eat a tremendous variety of foods, including plants, adult frogs and other animals, and can often be found in vernal pools throughout the year.

Snapping Turtle
Common Species, NOT Endangered