does anyone know anything about Snapping turtles?

cindy6806(z7 DE)July 18, 2005

Here is my delemma: I walked outside this morning and saw this huge THING walking across the field. I thought it looked like a turtle, and on very careful inspection, it was a Very large snapper. he just sat down and looked at me when I approched. I went back in the house, and about ten minutes later saw him heading back the way he came. I thought it unusual, because we are at least 3 or 4 miles from any ponds that I know of, and I have lived here 2 years, and hadn't seen any turtles at all. I decided to take a walk a little bit ago around the field, and found him by the woods under a bush. From what I have read, they hardly ever leave their ponds. Any clue on how long he can go outside water? it is very hot out today, and am worried about him. I am sure he is an old fellow, as big as he is. Any ideas would be very helpful. Thanks, Cindy

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treebeard(z5 MA)

It may be female. They leave their ponds to lay their eggs, and have been known to travel what may appear to be odd distances to do so. They usually nest between
April and November, although this would seem to be a little late to be starting that adventure.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 3:49PM
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dirtgirl(So. Illinois)

Are you going through a drought? Snappers will readily take off for better waters if their home pond gets too low, although from what I have read, no one is absolutely certain how they do this since they obviously can't SEE the other water sources. Some say they can "taste" the presence of water in the air, but at any rate they usually know where they are headed. SOmetimes they will bury themselves in the mud at the bottom of a pond or creek if things get bad. How big is this turtle? Like a large dinner plate or the lid off a garbage can or what?
Snappers are very resilient... unless the turtle is in some kind of immediate danger, it probably doesn't need much help and will take care of itself once you leave. IF this is truly a big snapper, then it doesn't have many ememies except man and traffic, which is a redundancy, I know.
I have moved lots of them from roads and believe me there is a wrong way and a right way to do this. Don't try using your foot as a nudger unless you have VERY stout boots on. Better to find a stick or something because they will not be going quietly. If you HAVE to use your hands, there is only one way that I would even suggest trying, and that's only as a last resort: grasp the turtle firmly by the entire lengtht of its tail and just pick it straight up. You MUST keep it at arm's length and away from your thigh at all times because that's where you will be bitten if you get lazy and let your arm sag. Remember, though: this has got to hurt the turtle like crazy, so you should only try it if you have no other options or if time is critical and cars are coming, and then only try it if you are sure of yourself. If you have any doubts, forget don't want to get yourself bitten. And unless this turtle is near a road then you shouldn't have to do much in the first place.
It is weird when you see them just take off over hill and dale like that since most of the time all you see is a big head sticking up out of the water.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 3:50PM
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cindy6806(z7 DE)

Thanks, dirtgirl, very good advice. I have never been around snappers much, so tried to look up everything I could. It apears to be late in the season for them to be laying eggs, and just mistifies me why he/she is here. I say it is more towards the garbage can lid size, I am gestimating 15 inches shell lenth. Last time I looked, its shell was looking dry, wondering if I should maybe sprinkle it with the hose? I guess we will keep an eye on it for now. Cindy

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 4:20PM
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jillmcm(z6 PA)

I have seen snappers pretty far from water fairly often. I would agree with dirtgirl that letting this one take care of itself is the way to go. Turtles can go for quite a long time without being in the water, so I don't think you need to water it :) (a pet slider of mine was lost for 10 days after pulling a Houdini and getting out of the wading pool where I was letting him get some UV - he was on the driveway the whole time, but well hidden - and he was none the worse for wear, just hungry!)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 8:37PM
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cindy6806(z7 DE)

Thank you jillmcm, I will take the advice and let him/her be.. I did put some water on it earlier, and seemed to revieve a bit.. then threw some cherry tomatoes around, just could not help it,... I went and checked on it with my flashlight, and still there, seems to have eaten some of the tomatoes. I will check again in the morning.. Cindy

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 9:25PM
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Kristy_SC(coastal SC)

Just to throw my .02 in - snapping turtles are not the only turtles that bite :) All turtles will try to take a chunk out of you if they feel treatened. When moving a turtle from the road, the safest procedure is to 1. put on gloves 2. pick up the turtle by holding onto the shell between the hind legs - turtles have very long necks and can reach around a good ways! Your gloves will protect you from the claws of the hind legs. (It's just a good idea to keep gloves in the car, you never know when you'll need them.) 3. hold the turtle upright (head up, shell facing you) and place on the side of the road the turtle was heading for. Always be aware of traffic and be careful! This time of year, we pull a couple of the road weekly as the females are moving around to lay eggs. Thay can lay more than one clutch, so this is not too late in the season for yours to be doing such. Good luck with her.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 8:19AM
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cindy6806(z7 DE)

Well, I went out and checked under the bush this morning, and the snapper was gone. I walked up to the road and looked up and down and nothing there ( thank goodness!) Hopefully it is on its way to a nice big pond. I was going to take a walk up the road to see if maybe it had made its way into the drainage ditches( they have alot of water in them right now because of all the rain), but it is just too darned hot right now. Cindy

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 1:19PM
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Turtles do lay eggs this late.We get about 6 a year in our farm pond.I went for paper at the end of drive.accross the road I saw a turtle,big one.I went to look it was laying eggs in August.Those things are nasty.I was at my gazebo at the pond last week.My jack russell was with me.This turtle came up the bank stuck its head out.Im sure he would have gotten my dog had I not yelled.she reached out to smell him.His head was as big as a soft ball.
They travel in streams usually thats how they end up in ponds.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 7:44AM
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dirtgirl(So. Illinois)

I find them interesting, although I give them their space and respect when I encounter them (especially those soft-shells!) and nobody is the worse for wear. I have been swimming in ponds before where there were lots of decent sized snappers about and never had a bad encounter, contrary to their reputation. They are like most snakes...will go out of their way to avoid an encounter with humans but if cornered are plenty assertive!
My dad tells of going to a state fair when he was a boy and going into this tent where people were all crowded around a huge washtub. Somone had caught a giant snapper out of a river somewhere and for a nickel you could see it. He said he begged his dad all day long for that nickel!! According to the story, it was over 100 pounds. Might have been an alligator snapper I guess.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 3:28PM
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Nancy_Ind_is_now_Ill(west central)

In the midwest, people who used to hunt for snappers to eat would run lines in drainage ditches through the country roads. Would just hang their hooks down near ground level from rails of those little short bridges (ones maybe a car length long). The snappers were actively feeding at night. Some of these ditches had little water in them unless there was recent rains so guess they don't all need to stay in water.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2005 at 1:41AM
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I attend a wonderful gathering each year, the last Saturday in August. Someone always provides snapping turtle for soup. I won't eat it because I think they are scavengers. One note, if you butcher the turtle, the meat must be soaked overnight to get rid of the mud taste. It may be hard to believe but I've known them to live in farm manure lagoons.
If your turtle is big enough, you can kiss all your ducks and ducklings goodbye.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2005 at 7:29PM
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cindy6806(z7 DE)

Well, he must have wandered back the way he came, because we haven't seen him since. I thank everyone for the great info! We figure he must have come from the drainage ditches after 3 days of rain, they were pretty full. Cindy

    Bookmark   July 30, 2005 at 2:15PM
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We want to introduce ducks to our farm pond but know they would not live with the snapping turtles pursuing them. My brother in law set baited traps, which worked well for a while. He found a man who actually wanted them at his property. But after two weeks of catching them, they are no longer coming to the traps. They are either no more left or they are not hungry. Anyone know what their eating habits are? Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 9:22AM
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I remember when we were younger in Texas. We watched a big ole turtle walkin down the road towards Zeboes park. We walked along side it till it got to the main road then my twin sister and I each grabbed a side of the turtle's shell and picked it up. It just relaxed and enjoyed the ride. We heard a hissing when we first went to pick it up but after that it didn't make any noises at all. It was relaxed and non agressive at all. I suppose that is when I first fell in love with turtles. I have encountered a few agressive turtles but not many. I am very cautious of COOTERS tho. I am curious if that is a nickname for a certain type of turtle that is indigenous to South Carolina or if it is a real type of turtle? I guess I will just google it. I am not at all fond of water birds. Our experiences with water fowl has been more problematic than anything else. I have had ducks and geese chase and attack our daughters when they were toddlers. They would chase my daughters and take their bottles and any food they may have had in their hands or mouths. They have attacked my chihuahuas and my cats. I have seen small birds dive bomb my cats. Tho I must admit, it is quite comical to watch. Those little birds do damage to my four legged friends. I can't stand the bird droppings all over everything. Turtles are good. I could not imagine eating anything soooooooooo cute.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 9:27AM
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I agree with Sam_MD. I still haven't even seen a turtle in my pond (in Virginia), but one of my ducks was killed in the middle of the pond and another had half of his foot bitten off. Of course I suspect a snapper. I've tried to catch them with baited hooks, so far unsuccessfully. I'll be treating any I catch with less respect than did Cindy.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 6:37AM
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When we first bought our farm all the workers kept asking did you see that huge turtle in your pond.My husband was here one morning it was sitting on edge of pond.He said it was as big as a garbage can lid.
If you go down to pond and sit quietly in evening youll see them .We get about 4 big ones maybe 12-14" accross.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2006 at 3:26AM
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We bought a trap.You tie rotten chicken to back of cage.They walk in the door slams shut.we caught a many a turtle this way.Also the big hook on thick string works.We have white swans so we have to watch what we use.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 8:19AM
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