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Aqualife Beauty Uncategorized Baby common snapping turtle 🐢 as a pet: Complete feeding & care guide

Baby common snapping turtle 🐢 as a pet: Complete feeding & care guide

baby common snapping turtle

Baby snapping turtle, one of the largest and famous species of freshwater turtles belong to the Chelydridae family, that’s also referred to as snapping turtle family. The baby snapping turtle’s two varieties are the common snapping turtle and the alligator snapping turtle; the Chelydra serpentine and Machrochelys Temminckii respectively. 

Mostly, baby common snapping turtle is in southeastern Canada, in the Rocky Mountains area. Parts of Florida and Nova Scotia are also places they are found in numbers. It’s basically a North American continent native.

Just a note though; the alligator snapping turtle is classified as an endangered species, now only sighted in southeastern part of America.

In thick silt layered swamps and river bottoms are where the snapping turtle prefers to mostly spend its time.

What does a baby snapping turtle look like?

Baby snapping turtle appearance is a scaring “crocodilish” like look to say the least, but which is very exotic. That scary crocodile like look makes it even more exciting to gaze at. Just have an aqua-terrarium and they’ll be with you for a very long time.

Lengthwise, it can grow as long as 20 – 25 inches. On the other hand, about 70 pounds is just about the maximum weight they can attain.

However, about 15 inches and about 35 – 40 pounds are the typical length and weight respectively for most baby common snapping turtles. Right there is your answer to how big can snapping turtles get?

Well, it has a uniquely consistent pattern across the carapace (turtle’s top shell) and sides.  Dirty brown is the color of its shell and the soft exposed body parts. However, you may note some areas appearing yellowish.

Despite having a large head, it has small black eyes. Moreover, its beak is sharply pointed and very powerful. 

Further, it has narrow, cross shaped plastron (turtle’s belly shell). 3 long short ridges on its shell run lengthwise and blunt spikes magnificently dot the carapace.

Its feet are webbed, with sharp claws. These feet adaptations help it dig and grip effectively. In addition, its tail is long and jagged.

Generally, females are smaller in size than males.

What is the lifespan of baby common snapping turtle as pet?

How long do Turtles Live? Well, I hope you are prepared for this!!! On average, 30 – 40 solid YEARS are just about how long baby snapping turtle can live. In-fact, it can surpass the 45 years mark if its living conditions and natural habitat like environment are provided.

Let not the cuteness of the young baby snapper pet play tricks on your mind to imagine it’s an easy task caring for them. You better be intent on keeping your commitment vows to this guest.

How to care for a baby snapping turtle pet:

As stated here earlier, snapping turtle as a pet needs a lot of care. In short, it’s a challenge and real work on the hobbyist’s part. How you care for it definitely informs its behavior.  Destructive can as well be its other name in unhappy conditions; be it caused by general environment, diet or any other irritant.

To that end, ask yourself the following questions and ensure to get the right answers to them.

Baby common snapping turtle tank setup; how is it done?

Firstly, snapping turtles are hardy and as such, can survive in an aquarium. A caveat though; it’s a daunting task.

Out in the wild (the ideal habitat benchmark), its most comfortable under water, barrowing in the sand/silt.

Following this therefore, you’ll need to replicate this wild habitation in the tank. Muddy like water covered with plants and moss is what it likes.

However, be warned that live plants will just eat up.

Ideal tank size:

A 10 gallons tank size may suffice for a baby snapping turtle hatchling. That’s maybe upto just about 6 – 8 inches. But that’s just about it.

In no time, you’ll realize that no less than a 130 – 150 gallons tank will be the minimum sufficient tank size for a mature snapping turtle pet.  This you’ll realize sooner than even before you get yourself the answer to how fast do snapping turtles grow? FYI, they grow very fast.

Juvenile snappers wouldn’t however mind a small glass bowl as it gets to familiarize with the surrounding. But this is for strictly a very short time as they outgrow it.

In addition to getting the right tank size, get an effective solid filter for proper aeration. Besides, snapping turtles pollute the tank in no time with their waste and uneaten food remains.

FYI, they eat large food portions. A good and reliable water filtration system is essential. This you’ll supplement with water occasional changes.

The tank’s substrate:

Gravel and sand with the right thickness makes for good substrate. Ensure its good enough for it to burrow and dig in.

Well, for the rocks, big and round ones are better. You definitely don’t want your snapper turtle pet mistaking smaller stones for food and subsequently chocking on them.

Aquarium sand and/or smooth river rocks are great.

Do baby common snapping turtle bask? The answer is a big yes!! In-fact, a shallow flat stone or some sort of an island in the tank of a juvenile baby snapping turtle pet is recommended. It is its basking spot.   

Generally, the snappers unlike other turtles are very active; moving everything. As a result, decorating the tank is unnecessary. However, that’s not to say you shouldn’t provide it with shade for hiding.

Sunken clay-pots, storage boxes, driftwood or even a “ready-made” cave from the stores will do just that perfectly. Ensure to make it as natural as possible. To feel safe and comfortable, snappers love hiding, just like most other amphibians.

Tank lighting and heating:

Further, UVB and standard luminescent heat lamps should be used to provide quality lighting and heating. Suspending above the tank lights the whole tank uniformly.

Important caution; strictly ensure UVB 10% is the reading on the UVB lamp. This is for the purposes of ensuring that radiation is within the acceptable limits.

However, a UVB lamp is best placed about 12’’ of the turtle’s shell when basking at its basking spot. You know how you can make a basking spot? Well, just buy from the stores a basking dock or make use of a large log. Easy!

This spot should ideally be at the shallowest part of the tank. Besides lighting, UVB lighting offer just the right light spectrum for subsequent ideal calcium absorption by your snapping turtle pet.

Note: Even when basking, your pet snapping turtle won’t fully leave the water. At best, it’ll still be partially in water. This therefore requires that the basking spot be slightly sloppy. Subsequently, with super heating of the spot to just above 85°F, your snapper pet will be able to feel the heating effect.

Why is the heating vital? Because their bodies don’t generate heat hence the need from an external source to help in their body heat regulation. Needs heating just like goldfish pets.

Healthy water conditions:

In setting up the ideal snapping turtle enclosure, the following water conditions as summarized here should be observed.

Water ParametersTemperatureWater pH
Ideal ranges68 °F – 76°F6.8 – 7.4

Naturally, turtles are cold blooded. However, while they can cope in cold waters, warmer waters supports healthy growth and development.

Moreover, when the water is extremely cold, your baby common snapping turtle pet will hibernate besides not feeding.

Do snapping turtles swim? Yes, though they are poor at it. The water should not be too shallow but just enough to allow it poke its head out to breath.

Unnecessarily deeper waters can possibly drown your snapper turtle. The turtle’s shell length is just about how deep the waters should be.

NOTE: Ensure to use non-chlorinated water or its equivalent always.

Snapping turtle food: What do baby snapping turtles eat?

Keeping snapping turtles as pets? Then you have to know how and when to feed them. It’s one of the initial steps on knowing how to take care of a baby snapping turtle.

First, both dietary needs and how often do snapping turtles eat in the tank largely depends on their size and age. Secondly, they eat when they are most active which is at dusk and at dawn.

For snapping hatchlings, feeding them once or twice a day is sufficient. Vitamin D supplements too should particularly be fed to them. Sunshine moments are also good for the natural vitamin D source.

The vitamin is vital for shell’s development.

Further, for mature snappers, thrice a week feeding is good enough.

Snapping turtle diet in captivity:

This mirrors what it feeds on in the wild. It is primarily omnivores. So, all you need is to correctly answer to is, what do snapping turtles eat in the wild? Subsequently, you’ll correctly tell what does a snapping turtle eat and needs.

What do snapping turtles eat in captivity? Just as in the wild, baby snapper diet is largely vegetarian. Therefore, the kitchen vegetables, fruits residues and available aquatic plants form the plant matter diet.  Monstera and Scindapsus are some of the best plants to feed them on.

Added to the vegetables are small creatures like rodents, fish and even insects. Moreover, a variety of aquatic turtle foods like turtle pellets, granules and flakes, all artificial feeds are available in stores near you.

While nutritional needs should dictate the feeds to serve, granules particularly have most on the necessary nutrients. They are also great if you are pressed for food preparation time.

While it would still eat fish foods, they are however not nutritionally helpful to your snapper pet.

Another important concern is, are you over or under feeding your turtle pet? Well, if seemingly bulging with skin “threatening” to unfold out of the shell, you probably are overfeeding.

However, if in the contrary its skin seems saggy like and you can barely see its head when in the shell, you are under feeding. You thus need to increase your food portions.  

NOTE: You may want to consider having a separate feeding tank or tub. This will reduces the water pollution and water changes to maintain the bearable water quality.

Besides chances of feed leftovers, baby snappers are such sloppy creatures. They’ll defecate in the tank and at the same time be feeding.

Snapping turtle diet in the wild:

Well, it suffices to describe it as a very voracious eater with impeccable hunting agility. It hides and preys on small aquatic lives. Once in sight, it snaps without missing. It’s not without reason that “snapping” is its name.

Frogs, snails, newts, small fish, invertebrates, small mammals and even smaller turtles are part of its diet.

Why is baby snapping turtle not eating?

Not unless you are deliberately starving or its just being choosy on what to eat, then you may need to find out why. It’s however not too much of a worry.

Two things among those that you may want to check out are;

Is the turtle sick?

If suffering an illness, it will definitely not be enthusiastic about food. Mostly, illnesses occur when the pet is stressed. Stress undermines its immunity. Water tests for toxins are recommended because their presence in water causes it stress.

Are the water temperatures conducive?

Very low water temperatures lower the appetite and eventually lead to hibernation. They are cold-blooded and thus need some warmth else their body system completely shuts to preserve the little body heat available.

You’ll subsequently note near zero activity and absolute sluggishness.

Besides the two possible causes above, water quality is also a possible reason it may not ne feeding. Too much filth is a possible turn off.

Moreover, even a condition like pregnancy as well as a deficiency in the diet and body, say of vitamin will also lead to abstinence from food.

How to safely handle a baby snapping turtle:

As stated earlier, this is an aggressive pet especially when unhappy or senses threat. Don’t be duped by its seeming coolness.

Therefore, knowing how to hold a snapping turtle is firstly for your safety and secondly, for its safety. Rule of thumb; pick it up only if you must.

Can snapping turtles bite? Absolutely yes. Its “snapping” name is earned; it will snap off a finger with just one bite. A mature snapper’s jaw generates well over 40lbs of force impact. I bet you don’t want to feel that weight on your fingers.

For your safety, using thick gloves (if you can); pick it by firmly and steadily holding the back of its shell. Your hands should be as close as possible to its hind legs.  It’s the safest position from which it can’t possibly bite you.   

For its safety, do not handle your snapper by the tail. Its tail is directly connected to its spine. This therefore makes it very sensitive and risky.

As a result, the sensitivity of that body part can make handling by the tail hurt and at worse, cause its untimely death. 

Do turtles have tank mates?

While baby snapping turtle pets are great, don’t forget that they are very aggressive. They’ll prey on any life in the tank. In-fact, they’ll even eat other smaller sized turtles. They start off by ripping off their heads.

However, in a pond environment, you may keep them with fast swimming fish. This will help the fish react fast as turtles are such poor swimmers.  

This however has no guarantees of long life for the fish.


If you have had enough of your turtle pet, first check out on where to release baby snapping turtles with your local authorities. You however must never release your turtle into the wild unguided and unauthorized.

Firstly, it surely lacks on the survival skills out there.

Secondly, it has built-in resistance to most viruses, bacteria and other lethal pathogens while in captivity. This is not the case with wild turtles. Therefore, if you release your long-time tanked snapping turtle, you are essentially releasing and exposing the wild turtles to these risky micro-organisms.

Baby snapping turtle pet requires a life of commitment from you while in return offer you such exotic beauty and fulfillment.

Go get one just about NOW!!!!

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