“Snappy” — Juvenile Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentine)
Snappy, the star reptile in the fresh water tank at Mass Audubon‘s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, offered a practical lesson last Friday on how not to handle a snapping turtle when attempting to relocate it from one place to another. It’s all a question of the turtle’s “business end.” How long is a snapping turtle’s neck and how far down its shell can that neck be stretched? Clearly, it’s best to learn these lessons with a young juvenile as teacher. While an adult snapping turtle would teach the same subject, its lesson might be a tad more permanent.
Snappy Shows Off His Long and Powerful Neck
They don’t call them snappers for nothing. Not only can a snapping turtle reach halfway down its carapace (top shell) to express its displeasure with human interaction, but a snapper can “quick draw” its neck faster than the Lone Ranger can unholster his six-shooter and fire a silver bullet. Lucky for Don, Snappy has yet to master this aggressive technique in the safety of his life in paradise. We suspect, though, that the next time he’s handled so casually, someone will pay the price of admission … so to speak.
Snappy with Neck Fully Extended
Where does Snappy put all that neck when not in the snapping mode? A snapping turtle retracts its neck into a vertically bent S-curve within the protection of its shell when not capturing prey or warding off too curious humans and other similarly foolish critters.