Species information

Bruce Peninsula National Park

Close up of an adult snapping turtle
Snapping turtles are the largest species of freshwater turtle in Canada.

The Common snapping turtle is easily identified as the only Ontario turtle species with a long tail. They are known for their strong jaws, dinosaur-like appearance, and long claws. These turtles have a very small plastron (the shell underside), which means they cannot fully hide in their shells like most other turtles can. This is why the Snapping turtle has developed the defense mechanism of "snapping" at predators and threats.

Should you swim in a lake with snapping turtles?

Two turtles are held side by side to show their belly
The underside of a snapping turtle is very unprotected compared to other turtle species.

Snapping turtles very rarely snap underwater. They are much more inclined to snap on land, where they feel vulnerable or threatened. Having snapping turtles in our lakes and ponds is a great thing! While they eat fish, frogs, and insects, they also eat decaying animal and plant matter, which helps to keep our water clean.

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