Field Guide to Maryland's Turtles (Order Testudines)
Eastern Snapping Turtle
Chelydra s. serpentina
Photo of Eastern Snapping Turtle courtesy of Linh Phu.
8 - 14 inches. Record - 19 inches.
Cosmopolitan in habitat preference. Any permanent body of freshwater. Can also be found in brackish water.
Photo of Habitat for Eastern Snapping Turtle
courtesy of Scott A. Smith.
How to Find
These animals do not typically bask exposed, but look for their tracks along muddy shorelines or in shallow wetlands, where they often bury themselves in the warm mud just under the surface, only their eyes and nostrils exposed. Known for being bad-tempered, beware of the “snap” of its jaws as it explosively extends its long neck when threatened. Can be found on land during nesting from late April to mid-June, often at great distances from water.
Distribution in Maryland
Common throughout Maryland.
- Discover Maryland's Herps
- Maryland Herp History
- Maryland Herp Checklist
- Survey Techniques, Collecting Ethics, Safety and the Law
- Problems with Buying Frogs and Tadpoles for Wild Release
- Technical Guide: A Key to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Maryland - 86.3 MB pdf file
- Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas (MARA) Project
- Natural Heritage Program
- Wildlife & Heritage Home
"A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"
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The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.