Snapping Turtle

Chelydra serpentina


Chelydra serpentina is a common turtle species found in nearly any wetland in the eastern United States, and is found throughout Mississippi. These turtles grow very large, and can be over two feet long when fully grown. Snapping Turtles are often seen crossing roads during spring egg-laying season. They’ll usually be observed when slowly moving on land between wetlands. Snapping Turtles use their extremely strong, quick head and jaw actions to forage, as well as defend themselves. Adults can be black/gray to brown or olive, while juveniles are usually black or gray with rougher shells.

Adult Snapping Turtle moving to a nesting area, Holt Co. (MO)

Identifying Traits

  • Long tail with tooth-like scales on top


Any water body, often with fish to hunt


Ambush predator, may be observed moving or crossing between wetlands to lay eggs, avoid desiccation, or search for food resources


Fish, invertebrates, frogs, and even other reptiles

Snapping Turtle, a resident of a boggy pond, Harrison Co. (MS)
Size comparison of an adult and juvenile found in the same wetland, Jefferson Par. (LA), © Brittany Maldonado
Young individual crossing a road, Liberty Co. (FL)