5 Facts about Snapping Turtles


Snapping turtles are laying their eggs right now in South Dakota. If you drive the country roads or walk on trails in our part of the state you’re likely to see one. Here are some interesting facts about snappers.

  1. Snapping Turtles Don’t Have Teeth – they’re vicious and can snap a stick (or a finger!) in half, but they don’t have any teeth in their mouth.
  2. Snapping Turtles are Omnivorous – that means they eat both plants and animals. It’s common to see a snapper grab a duckling for dinner from below the water.
  3. Snapping Turtles Can be Huge – think garbage can lid! The largest snapper ever recorded in South Dakota was a female that weighed over 44 pounds. On average, female snappers are smaller than males.
  4. Soil Temperature Determines If Eggs are Male or Female – If the soil temperature is 86 degrees plus, all the eggs will be female turtles. If the soil temp is 60 to 81 degrees only males will hatch. If it’s between 82 and 86 degrees in the soil, the eggs can be both sexes.
  5. Snapping Turtles STINK! That’s because their shell, or carapace, grows algae. The algae is actually responsible for the horrible swamp odor that follows these turtles around.

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