Snapping Turtle

371The worlds oldest species! The Snapping turtle has not evolved since the dinosaur age- it is our only living dinosaur.

Note that Snapping turtles are top predators in the water and can be surprisingly gentle when in water- they are more interested in eating dead fish and smelly things than a large live human. For more information on their behaviour visit our page: Snapping turtles and your lake

I.D. Features:

  • Rough brown-olive to dark green carapace (upper shell)
  • Largest Turtle-unmistakable features- large thick legs and toes with sharp claws
  • This is the only turtle with a very small plastron (under-shell) so they cannot pull their legs and arms in to hide- thus the snapping on land to protect themselves

    Painted turtle plastron on the left. Snapping turtle on the right. Copyright. Christina Davy
  • Pointed jaw-tooth
  • Rough ridges on tail and carapace
Status: Special Concern
Photo: Adopt-a-pond, Toronto Zoo
  • Very tolerant of many diverse habitats from lakes, to ponds and marshes
  • Prefers dead decaying fish and amphibians
  • Will eat live small fish, snails, and mussels


Snapping turtles are prolific and found throughout most of southern and central Ontario, and extending northwards too.