Species of the month: Snapping Turtle (July 2021)

July 21, 2021

Facts about Snapping Turtles

  • Canada's largest freshwater turtle
  • Been around since the Late Cretaceous Era, making them a living dinosaur!
  • Designated as a species of "Special Concern"
  • Hatchlings are the size of a loonie, and their sex depends on the temperature of the eggs!
  • Their shell is usually covered in algae
  • Spend most of their lives in shallow water, with only their nose exposed to the surface. When it's time to lay eggs females use gravel or sandy areas adjacent to shorelines
  • Snapping turtles can be found across Southern Ontario, but depend on wetlands and shorelines to survive
  • Biggest threats are being hit by cars and habitat destruction

There's a Snapping Turtle on the Road! What do I do?

Here are a few simple steps to follow to keep you and your snapper friend safe when moving them off roadways:

  • Often a snapping turtle can be coaxed across the road with a board or shovel, no need to handle them!
  • If you have to move a snapper, be aware that their necks are long! Only handle the turtle from behind to avoid being bitten
  • Come from behind and slide your dominant hand under the turtle's belly the same way you'd handle a tray. Your other hand can be placed under the top of its shell above its tail
  • If you can, use a towel, floor mat from your car or piece of cardboard to slide or lift the turtle on to, and then pull it from behind across the road in the direction it was going
  • Slide the snapper off your mat or towel the same way you moved him on, and you're done!

Things to remember:

  • NEVER grab a turtle by its tail, it can injure its spine
  • Use your hazard lights when parked on roadways
  • Only handle a turtle as much as absolutely necessary, and always move them in the direction they were going

Check out our educational poster here.