Snapping Turtle Basking

During a recent trip to Hendrie Valley to do some bird photography I had the opportunity to capture some images of a snapping turtle basking on a log.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-160

In Canada, snapping turtles live in Southern Ontario, as far west as Saskatchewan and as far east as Nova Scotia. They can be found in almost any freshwater habitat, but are most often found in slow-moving water. They prefer habitats with a soft mud or sand bottom as this affords them abundant vegetation. Their range extends throughout much of the United States reaching as far south as Florida.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-400

The snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in Canada. Their lower shell or plastron is quite small. The maximum length of their top shell or carapace is 47 cm, or about 18.5 inches. Unlike most turtles found in Canada, a snapping turtles cannot withdraw into its shell for protection. When threatened the turtle will snap repeatedly to scare away predators.

Snapping turtles are estimated to live up to 70 years and do not typically breed until they are 17 to 19 years old. A single clutch of eggs numbers between 40 and 50.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 216mm, efov 583mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-900

Snapping turtles are omnivorous and eat aquatic plants, invertebrates, as well as fish, frogs, snakes, small turtles, aquatic birds and relatively fresh carrion.  These turtles play an important role in keeping lakes and wetlands clean as about 90% of their diet is dead animal and plant matter.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 204mm, efov 552mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-560

Snapping turtles are the most prehistoric looking species in Canada with their tails having spikes.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 178mm, efov 481mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-160

Adult snapping turtles in Canada have very few natural enemies. Hibernating turtles and young adults are occasionally preyed upon by otters and mink. The eggs of snapping turtles are often eaten by raccoons, foxes, skunks and opossums. The snapping turtle is currently listed as Special Concern under the Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007. It is also listed as Special Concern under the federal Species at Risk Act.

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4 thoughts on “Snapping Turtle Basking”

  1. my son raised a hatchling from about 2 inches

    fifteen years later it almost filled a 150 gallon stock tank and ate a dozen bluegills or a 3-4 pound carp every couple of weeks

    very fierce and aggressive critter…you did not hand-feed him 🙂

    I catch one or too every year flyfishing for bass
    releasing one is much harder than catching one

    they do prehistoric better than most anything around here

  2. Hello Tom
    Just returned – after two months of Tuscany (luckily, no snapping turtles there)! Nice to see tomstirrphotography is alive and well.
    Have used both systems; FF (the new D850 is simply astonishing) and Nikon 1. Meanwhile waiting for the new mirrorless Nikon. We shall see… ?
    Thank you for your site.

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