Thursday, April 3, 2014

Common Snapping Turtle

I was walking along the remnants of the original path of the Hocking River (before it was re-routed for reasons dealing with flooding) last Friday (March 28) afternoon in Athens. All that's left is a small creek that flows behind my dorm hall (I'm a student at Ohio University). Scanning the low, clear waters, I saw tadpoles, a few dead frogs, and something else that caught my eye.

Common Snapping Turtle young
As I focused on the object, I noticed it sort of looked like a tiny turtle basking on a leaf. Upon closer inspection, it was indeed a turtle basking on a leaf, but not just any type of turtle. This turtle was a young Common Snapping Turtle! So of course I moved in for a closer look...

baby Common Snapping Turtle
Ah! That's better. Anyway, this is a Common Snapping Turtle, Chelydra serpentina. Notice the rough carapace, long tail, and angry-eyes staring your blogger down. His body temperature was so low though from the very cool water that he barely even moved. Common Snapping Turtles are found throughout Ohio; however, you don't see them too often because, unlike most turtles in Ohio, they don't bask very often. They mostly bask in early spring, which is why this little one was out and about.

baby Common Snapping Turtle
As the name implies, these guys will bite, and they bite hard. While not as dangerous as their gigantic Alligator Snapping Turtle relatives of the south, these are still the biggest turtles in Ohio and are extremely dangerous. If you see one, don't try to touch it. Their necks are very flexible and can reach around and bite you even if you pick one up by the back half of the shell. As a result, many people try moving ones they come across by their tail. Please, don't ever do that. Picking one up or dragging one by the tail can severely hurt their spine. Dragging one can also damage the plastron (the bottom of the shell) and its legs. So basically, just leave them alone and they will leave you alone. Trust me, you don't want to be bitten by one of these guys, and you also don't want to hurt them.

That's it about this little guy. I hope to get more turtle posts on here this summer. I would really love to get some nice photos of an Eastern Box Turtle to do a big post on them, so here's hoping to that! Hope you enjoyed!

No comments:

Post a Comment