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Do Snapping Turtles Make Great Pets? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

Have you ever been driving when you suddenly see a turtle trying to cross the road? Like any good Samaritan, you pull over, get out of your car, and go to help the critter get to the other side of the highway. However, once you notice the strong jaw and hear the angry hissing, you immediately change your mind and back away.

While snapping turtles can be terrifying to some, they make excellent pets for others. However, snappers aren’t perfect for everyone. A snapping turtle requires an experienced owner who is dedicated to its care.

So, do snapping turtles make great pets? Well, it depends on who you ask!

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Snapping Turtles as Pets

While they might look unique, snapping turtles aren’t for the faint of heart. While veggies make up more than 60% of a snapping turtle’s diet, they also consume live fish, insects, and worms. These amphibians live very, very long lives and can be a serious hazard to their owners. Their strong jaws can easily crush a finger. As such, snapping turtles should never be kept in homes with young children who could accidentally get injured.

Moreover, snappers are legally protected in some regions and illegal to own as pets. Always check your local laws and legislations before bringing a snapping turtle home.

Snapping Turtle Mouth Opened
Image Credit: Scottslm , Pixabay

The Proper Habitat

You need a lot of space in your home to own a snapping turtle. Baby turtles needs a huge tank no smaller than 50 or 60 gallons. As your snapping turtle matures, you’ll need to increase its tank size up to 250+ gallons. These animals can grow to weigh as much as 25 pounds or more. Ideally, you’d keep your snapping turtle in a fenced-in outdoor pond. If you live in a tiny apartment, this is not the right pet for you.

Care Needs

 As we mentioned earlier, snapping turtles consume both plants and animals. If you’re squeamish about feeding your pet live fish or bugs, don’t buy a snapping turtle.

You’ll need to feed a snapper that is five months old or younger about every other day. Baby snapping turtles need to eat several times per day. A fully mature snapper only needs to be fed twice a week.

In addition to commercial pellets and veggies, snapping turtles dine on minnows, guppies, crickets, and worms. Frozen-thaws chicks, ducklings, and rodents make a nice treat from time to time.

Snapping Turtle Lake
Image Credit: AWokZap42, Pixabay

Not So Cute and Cuddly

If you’re looking for a social pet that you can interact with, a snapping turtle isn’t right for you. These guys are look but don’t touch animals. You should handle your snapper as little as possible. If provoked, a snapping turtle won’t hesitate to bite you.

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Is a Snapping Turtle Right for You?

If you’re a reptile or amphibian enthusiast who is an experienced turtle owner, a snapping turtle could be a great pet for you. If you have enough space for a large outdoor pond or indoor enclosure, don’t mind feeding your pet worms, and don’t want a snuggle buddy, a snapper could be a wonderful addition to your home.


Featured Image Credit: Scottslm, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

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.