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Are Snapping Turtles Dangerous? What You Need to Know!
Prehistoric in their appearance, snapping turtles have a somewhat aggressive look. However, in reality, they are docile creatures that have little to do with people and are not considered dangerous unless they are disturbed.
Swimmers can easily avoid them, and as long as your dog doesn’t aggressively approach the turtle, they should be safe from being bitten, too.
There are no known instances of snapping turtles killing people, although there are very rare cases of biting chunks of flesh off, with most incidents occurring out of the water, when the turtle feels most vulnerable.
Snapping Turtle Overview
Snapping turtles have an aggressive-sounding name and both species, the common snapping turtle and the alligator snapping turtle, look prehistoric. They are also predators, which means that they have been given the physical tools to attack other animals.
While they do not have teeth, they do have a mouth that is shaped like a strong, solid, beak. However, they conduct most of their hunting in water, where they bury themselves in the sand and wait for a predator to swim by. While they have a strong beak, their docile nature means that they are not too threatening.
The snapping turtle is found in Canada and the US. In particular, it can be found in ponds and streams. They may be seen on the surface of the water, and on logs, but also spend time hiding beneath the mud and sediment at the bottom of the waterway.
They are scavengers that eat plant matter as well as some small animals. Commonly they eat fish, frogs, and some birds and mammals.
Do Snapping Turtles Attack Humans?
These reptiles have a somewhat negative reputation for being detrimental to the population of breeding waterfowl and for attacks on humans.
In reality, they rarely predate young waterfowl, although it certainly isn’t unheard of.
There is also little evidence of snapping turtles attacking humans. They have the beak to cause injury but there has never been a single case of this species of reptile killing a human, and there are very few recorded cases of them attacking humans.
Snapping turtles are not aggressive, so will only attack if they feel threatened or exposed. This is most likely to happen when the animal is on land. They feel more comfortable in the water, where they spend most of their life and where they are agile and comfortable moving around.
Are Snapping Turtles Dangerous to Swimmers?
Snapping turtle attacks are most common on land. They are agile and highly skilled swimmers. As such, if they see a person approaching, they are more than capable of swimming away or burying themselves under the earth at the bottom of the water. This means that the snapping turtle is highly unlikely to attack swimmers.
Are Snapping Turtles Dangerous to Dogs?
The reptile is less comfortable on land. They are not fast movers and while they can use their sharp claws to dig, it is not necessarily their best course of defensive action. Therefore, if a turtle feels threatened or exposed, and it cannot see a way of getting away, it may attack. Because dogs are inquisitive and quick, they are more inclined to approach a snapping turtle on land. They are also quicker than people, though, so are less likely to get bitten.
Snapping Turtle Safety Tips
There are some tips you can follow to prevent being bitten:
Are Snapping Turtles Dangerous?
Snapping turtles are capable of biting, although they are more likely to scratch or wee on you, and even more likely to scurry or swim away to safety. However, one might try to bite you if it feels threatened or cornered. Avoid putting a snapping turtle in this kind of position, and you should be perfectly safe. Similarly, ensure that your kids or dogs do not give the snapping turtle reason to be afraid.
Feature Image Credit: Sebartz, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.