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Bruce Peninsula National Park

Interesting facts about the Common Snapping Turtle

  • Snapping turtles are prehistoric - the species has existed unchanged for 200 million years!
  • Turtles have nerve endings in their shell, so they can actually feel when they are being touched.
  • Snapping turtles are slow on land, travelling under 2 km/hour on average. In water, they travel 16-19 km/hour for long distances, and can reach 35 km/hour at maximum speed.
  • The sex of a snapping turtle is determined by temperature! Turtle eggs incubated at 20°C and 29-31°C produce only females, while eggs incubated at 23-24°C produce only males.  
  • Baby turtles have an "egg tooth" at the tip of their beak that they use break free from their shell and enter the world. The "tooth" falls off a few days later.
  • If a female turtle has been killed on a roadway, all hope is not lost. In some cases, if the female is holding any eggs, these eggs can be extracted by experts and artificially incubated until they hatch.
  • All turtles in Ontario hibernate underwater. A turtle will burrow into the muddy debris at the bottom of a lake, and slow down its heart rate and metabolism significantly. During hibernation, turtles can absorb oxygen through different body surfaces (including their bums)!
A baby turtle with sharp tooth on it's lip
Can you spot the "egg tooth" just under the baby turtle's nose?
A large snapping turtle in the weedy water
Credit: Ken Sproule
Snapping turtles are most comfortable in the water.
An adult snapping turtle on land
As they age, snapping turtles can grow to weigh over 35 pounds!

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