Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Dave Ross
Photo Copyright Dave Ross

The snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina, is a large (weighing up to 50 pounds) turtle native to aquatic areas of the central and eastern United States, southern Canada, and parts of Latin America. Although the species is not native to the western United States, it has been found in southwestern Utah, near St. George, and in several other western localities.

The snapping turtle is an opportunistic feeder that eats plant material, invertebrates, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, small birds, and even rodents. Eggs are laid in late spring to early summer, and clutches can sometimes exceed 100 eggs. Eggs hatch in approximately three months. The snapping turtle is almost always found in or around water, and it prefers to hide among aquatic plants. The predatory habits of the snapping turtle make it a threat to the endangered native fishes of southwestern Utah's Virgin River system.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Stebbins, R. C. 1985. A field guide to western reptiles and amphibians. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 336 pp.