Baby snappers may look like cute, adorable little turtle friends at first glance – but don’t let that first impression fool you!

Snapping turtles get big and sometimes even mean.

You are watching: How to care for a baby snapping turtle

Although they’re aquatic turtles, they won’t fit in a small tank or standard aquarium forever – that’s just snapping turtle facts.

Baby snapping turtles are quite a commitment, and they only make good pets for experienced keepers.

Keep reading to find out about baby snapping turtle care requirements.


Table of Contents


What Do Baby Snapping Turtles Eat?Baby Snapping Turtle Habitat and Tank SetupBaby Snapping Turtle Care

Facts at a Glance

Common Name

Alligator Snapping TurtleCommon Snapping Turtle

Scientific Name

Macrochelys temminckiiChelydra serpentina

Adult Size

Chelydra serpentina:

Carapace (upper shell): 9.8 – 20 in. (24.9 – 50.8 cm)

Weight: 9.9 – 35.3 lbs. (4.5 – 16 kg)

Macrochelys temminckii:

Carapace (upper shell): 13.8 – 31.8 in. (35.1 – 80.8 cm)

Weight: 19 – 176 lbs. (8.6 – 79.8 kg)

Native Range

As far South as Ecuador in South America

As far North as Manitoba, Canada

As far West as New Mexico, United States

As far East as Nova Scotia, Canada

Lifespan

50-100+ Years

Natural Diet

Fish, amphibians, ubraintv-jp.coms, waterfowl, crustaceans, small mammals, carrion, and aquatic plants

Natural Habitat

Slow-moving rivers, swamps, ponds, streams, tributaries, estuaries, and wetlands with murky fresh or brackish water.

Do They Make Good Pets?

No (only for experts)

Minimum Enclosure Dimensions

6 inches per 1 inch of shell length

Temperature

75 – 85°F (23.8 – 29.4°C)

What Is a Snapping Turtle?

Snapping turtles are aquatic turtles that live in slow-moving ponds, streams, and lakes. Their preferred natural habitat has dense vegetation and a muddy bottom.

Snapping turtles are omnivorous, but their diet focuses primarily on protein.

Snapping turtles are ambush predators – they sit and wait for live food to pass close enough to CHOMP. Their long necks help them reach prey from far away.

Wild snappers eat fish, smaller wild turtles, small ubraintv-jp.coms, aquatic insects, and other small animals.

Snapping turtles also eat carrion (dead animals) when they find it. One fact is certain: snapping turtles don’t make good hunters. They aren’t fast enough.

They’re known for their dinosaur-like appearance and snappy personality. On land, adult snapping turtles won’t hesitate to bite.

In the water, however, they’d rather swim away and avoid confrontation.

Unlike terrestrial box turtles, snappers are so aquatic that they often only come onto land to lay eggs. In the image below, you can see a snapping turtle laying eggs.

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Even young alligator snappers tend to have an attitude. The larger your baby snapping turtle grows, the more damage it can inflict.Some captive baby snapping turtles may become habituated to handling over time. Still, they grow into massive beasts with a powerful beak and a dangerous bite.

Handling will pose a significant risk in the future.

For now, if you must handle your baby snapping turtle, always approach it from behind. Its natural instinct is to snap onto anything moving near its mouth – including your fingers!

Lift the turtle by its shell, as close to its back legs as possible. They can reach and snap surprisingly far with their long neck.

As a baby, you may rest it in the palm of your hand once you have it out of the water.

Never try to pick your snapping turtle up by the tail! Doing so can severely injure your pet’s spine.

Tong-feeding is a great way to bond with your pet baby snapping turtle. Consider training turtle-friendly tricks or offering enrichment opportunities, like live feeder fish.

Is a Baby Snapping Turtle Right for YOU?

Baby snapping turtles may not pose much of a hassle for most turtle keepers. Still, babies eventually grow up.

The truth is that baby snappers don’t make the best pets unless you’re genuinely dedicated to this turtle species and its peculiarities.

A small tank won’t work – you’ll need a giant, dedicated enclosure that can keep other small animals out.

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Furthermore, can you imagine how much food these 50+ pound beasts consume as adults?!

There are many other types of smaller turtles that won’t pose as much of a danger – or financial investment.

There are also medium-sized tortoise and turtle species that are better suited for life in captivity.

What other kinds of turtles would you like to learn about? Leave a comment and let us know!