Look what we saw while hiking last month!
A few weeks ago, the Education Team at the Cook Museum went for a hike at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Decatur, AL. During this walk, we noticed several species of wildlife, including a water snake, great white egrets, blue herons and wild roses. However, the one I thought stood out the most was this guy, a large common snapping turtle.
He appeared to be older and just out to bask in the sun. He kept us is his line of sight the whole time we were observing him. He would slowly move his head and then slowly move his body. We moved on after a few minutes and he slowly slithered back into the water.
Common Snapping Turtle Fun Facts
- Common Snapping Turtle’s scientific name is Chelydra serpentina. Chelydra is a Greek word that means “tortoise” and serpentina is derived from the Latin word serpentis, which means “snake”. This word refers to its long tail.
- They have powerful jaws and have an average bite force of 209 N. They may not have the same force that you do when you bite with your molars (1300 N) but they have enough force to do some real damage.
- The Common Snapping turtle is an aquatic turtle that prefers slow-moving, shallow bodies of water with muddy bottoms, which give them places to hide.
- They are omnivores, meaning they eat plants and animals. Their diet consists of plants, insects, worms, snakes, fish and other small animals.
- You can find the Common Snapping Turtle all the way from southeastern Canada to the southern tip of the Florida panhandle.
So, while you are out and enjoying nature this summer, keep your eye out for fascinating animals. Take photographs, observe them in their natural habitat, look them up online and in books and keep exploring and learning!
Virginia Herpetological Society, accessed July 1, 2020, <https://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/reptiles/turtles/eastern-snapping-turtle/eastern_snapping_turtle.php>
North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, accessed July 1, 2020, <https://www.ncwildlife.org/Portals/0/Learning/documents/Profiles/Reptile/Common-Snapping-Turtle-Profile.pdf>