Common Snapping Turtle

Common Snapping Turtle

COMMON NAME: Snapping Turtle

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Chelydra serpentina

ADULT SIZE: 12-20 inches and 15-40 lbs

*Never pick up a snapping turtle by it's tail. You will most likely damage its vertibrae.


When most people acquire a snapping turtle as a pet, it's usually when it's a docile cute little hatchling. BUT...that cute little hatchling is going to grow up to be a large defensive adult. As a hatchling, snapping turtles can be kept in an aquarium appropriate to it's size, usually a 10-40 gallon works best. As the turtle grows, so will the need for a larger enclosure. An adult should be kept in nothing less than a 150 gallon stock tank or something similar. Bigger is always better so I recommend a 300 gallon stock tank if you are able. Filtration is paramount with these turtles. Adequate filtration is required as this species soils the water they are in VERY quickly. Always shoot for filtration that is rated for more than the size of the enclosure.

Snapping turtles do like to bask from time to time. While these turtles do absorb calcium through the foods they eat, it is always best to provide proper UVB above a basking area to give the turtle the option if it so chooses. Water temperature should be 75-80 degrees and the basking area should be 85-90 degrees.


In the wild, Snapping Turtles eat live fish, crawfish (crawdads), frogs, snails, salamanders, etc. In captivity, it's okay to feed them commercial turtle diets, chicken and thawed fish, but if available, I still try to feed my turtles live fish to mentally keep them stimulated by hunting for their own food. It's natural for them.