Snapping Turtles

Size and Growth

The Alligator Snapping Turtle has been recorded in the wild reaching over 200 pounds.  In captivity where the turtles are overfed and have no predators they can reach much higher weights.  One Alligator Snapping Turtle that was raised in captivity for many years reach over 350 pounds.  Sadly due to humans and over harvesting, these massive turtles are endangered.  I have personally never found one in the wild.  In most states they are illegal to capture.  I have had an Alligator Snapping turtle for 9 years.  I bought it online from a breeder.  When I got the turtle is was about 2.5 inches long.  The turtle is barely over 12 inches now.  These turtles grow very slow and can live close to 100 years or longer.


In the wild Alligator Snapping Turtles will eat anything that comes within reach.  Alligator Snapping Turtles are ambush predators.  They sit on the bottom covered in moss.  The shell is a dark color and helps them blend in to the rocks and logs around them.  They have a pink worm looking appendage inside their mouths.  This appendage can be moved to look like a worm and attract fish.

Alligator Snapping Turtle tongue appendage

Alligator Snapping Turtle tongue appendageCredit: Jared DavidsonCredit: Jared Davidson

Alligator Snapping Turtle's diet.

Alligator Snapping Turtles have been known to eat fish, tadpoles ,other turtles, ducks, insects and crawfish.  In captivity smaller Alligator Snapping Turtles will eat floating reptile pellets and koi food.


The Alligator Snapping Turtle is very unique looking.  Only one other species in the United States looks similar.  The Common Snapping Turtle which is not really a relative but closely associated and looks similar but is much smaller and had some different features.  The Alligator Snapping Turtle had a large head and a beak.  The head will usually have moss on it and be dark in color.  The head will not be one solid color.  It will be several shades of brown and grey so that it is not recognized as easy by fish.  The back shell of an Alligator Snapping Turtle has three rows of ridges that stick up further than the rest of the shell.  The shell will often be completely covered in moss.  This helps the turtle to blend in.  The Alligator Snapping Turtle has a long tail with ridges on it.

Alligator Snapping Turtle Ridges

Shell RidgesCredit: Jared DavidsonCredit: Jared Davidson

Alligator Snapping Turtle Photograph

Full shot of a small Alligator Snapping TurtleCredit: Jared DavidsonCredit: Jared Davidson

Alligator Snapping Turtles as a pet

The Alligator Snapping Turtle doesn’t make a good pet for most individuals.  These turtles do not like to be handled and one mistake can cause you to lose a finger.  These turtles get very large and live extremely long.  You must be prepared to take care of an animal that will probably outlive you and outgrow any normal home aquarium.  Alligator Snapping Turtles are also illegal to own in some states and illegal to capture from the wild in almost every state.

Alligator Snapping Turtle snapping at a stick

Alligator Snapping Turtle and Common snapping Turtle Comparison

Alligator Snapping Turtle and Common snapping Turtle ComparisonCredit: Jared DavidsonCredit: Jared Davidson