Can Alligator Snapping Turtles swim? Despite not being as streamlined as smaller, faster species, they are perfectly comfortable swimming when necessary…
Alligator snapping turtles can swim and are in fact good swimmers. Their feet have membranes between the toes that make it easy for them to swim. They can even spend time underwater and prefer to lie motionless waiting for prey. Even though they aren’t particularly fast, they are just as capable of swimming as most other turtles.
Can alligator snapping turtles breathe underwater?
Alligator snapping turtles can stay underwater without breathing. Once they go down underwater, they can hold their breath for up to 50 minutes. They then come out to take a breath and go back to stay underwater for another 45 or 50 minutes.
It must be noted that unlike fish and other aquatic animals, turtles cannot truly breathe in water. So, they have adapted to holding their breath while underwater.
I can say they cannot truly breathe underwater, because they don’t have gills like fish and some amphibians. They can absorb some oxygen from the water, however, which allows them to stay down a long time. This is especially useful during winter when they are brumating (hibernating).
They do this in two main ways:
- Buccopharyngeal respiration. This is a process where turtles absorb oxygen from the water by passing it over specialised membranes in their mouth and throat.
- Cloacal breathing. Turtles have pouches inside their cloaca called cloacal bursae. As in buccopharyngeal, breathing, these pouches have specialised membranes that absorb oxygen from water.
Can an alligator snapping turtle drown?
Yes, there is a possibility of an alligator snapping turtle drowning if it stays underwater for too long. These animals need to come up to breathe. If it cannot come up to breathe, it may drown and die. This can happen if it gets caught in a net underwater.
In captivity this happens a lot when an unsafe water filter is installed, and a baby turtle gets caught in it or sucked onto the intake.
Overall, this is probably one of the leading causes of death in captive turtles. Always opt for a filter that other keepers have recommended and has a proven track record with turtles. Don’t just buy one because it has “turtle” in the name!
Alligator snapping turtle bite
There are many stories about alligator snapping turtles can bite off people’s fingers and toes. There are also stories about aggressive snapping turtles attacking humans. Both of these situations are unlikely, so don’t worry overly if you live in an area with Alligator Snappers.
While the alligator snapping turtle has strong jaws, it is unlikely to bite. Generally, they avoid humans and are not aggressive. That said, a large adult of this species would indeed be strong enough to bite a finger off.
You should never handle a large adult unless you have been shown how by someone with experience. Even then, you do so at your own risk.
If you keep one as a pet, it will actually become very tame. All you need to do to avoid a bite (accidental in this case) is feed it with long metal feeding tongs.
How fast can alligator snapping turtles swim?
In water, the alligator snapping turtle can move at a medium pace. They are capable swmmers, but not that fast if I’m honest. Though a top speed has never been recorded for this species, it’s easy to see that they kind of paddle along at around 4 to 5 miles per hour.
This would be walking pace for most humans. It is likely that they could go faster, if they really wanted to. But that would require them to panic, and that doesn’t happen too often to giant, prehistoric-looking turtles with a really strong bite.
Alligator snapping turtle lifespan
The lifespan of an alligator snapping turtle is around 30 to 70 years. When kept in captivity, this turtle is known to live for up to 100 years.
The details of the lifespan on alligator snapping turtles in the wild are not known, but they are likely to live shorter lives due to disease and other factors.
Can baby alligator snapping turtles swim?
Yes, baby alligator snapping turtles can swim in water. They spend most of their time in the water and can swim.
They do get tired more quickly than adults though. If you keep a baby as a pet, you should make the water reasonably shallow in its enclosure.
By doing this, you make it easier for the baby turtle to rise for air, and this makes things easier for it all round. In the wild, you often find babies in much shallower water than adults for this very reason.
What do alligator snapping turtles eat?
In the wild, alligator snapping turtles are very carnivorous, but occasionally eat plant matter, meaning they are technically omnivores. They catch and eat prey as well as feed on plants and dead animals.
They mainly eat fish, which is their main food. These animals also eat other aquatic animals. Alligator snapping turtles can even eat small mammals. They eat mostly at night and lay in wait motionlessly for their prey.
The turtle keeps its tongue out lying in wait. Many aquatic animals mistake the tongue for a worm and come to check it out. The turtle then snaps and catches its prey to eat it. If available, they also scavenge and eat the flesh of dead animals.
How long can an alligator snapping turtle breathe underwater?
Alligator snapping turtles do not breathe underwater but hold their breath. They need to come up to the surface to breathe. They can stay underwater for up to 50 minutes. But they may come up once every 20 or 30 minutes.
If they exert themselves while hunting or swimming fast, they may come up earlier to take a breath.
Alligator snapping turtle habitat
The alligator snapping turtle is mostly found in freshwater habitats in the South Eastern part of the United States. They are found in lakes and rivers.
It has been found that they rarely stay in ponds or wetlands. They prefer to stay in water bodies that have overhanging trees like canopy trees or beaver dens or submerged trees.
They are also sometimes found in brackish water. These animals spend most of their time in the water. Usually, only the female comes to the land to nest.
What kills alligator snapping turtles?
There are many predators that pose risks to alligator snapping turtles. They are at maximum risk before they hatch from eggs or immediately after hatching.
Birds and mammals can eat the eggs or the young hatchling when it is born. Badgers, raccoons, crows, coyotes, rats and predatory fish can kill alligator snapping turtles for food.
However, once they grow in size they do not have many predators. Adult alligator snapping turtles can even kill and eat small alligators.
Alligator snapping turtle bite force
The alligator snapping turtle is known to have strong jaws. It is known to bite with a bite force of 160 Newtons.
While they have a strong bite force, they only use it on their prey. Adult alligator snapping turtles can easily kill and eat small alligators, turtles and medium-sized fish.
Apart from their strong jaws, they also have a powerful beak. The combination of the jaws and beak is used to kill and eat prey.
There are stories of how they can break a broom into two, but these are mostly myths. Other than using their bite on prey, they are unlikely to bite humans or other objects.
FAQs relating to can alligator snapping turtles swim
Can an alligator snapping turtle bite a finger off?
There are many myths surrounding the biting power of the alligator snapping turtle. These myths talk about alligator snapping turtles biting the finger off unsuspecting people. There are stories told of people whose toes and fingers where bitten off by these turtles. However, most of them are just stories and not reality.
There have been cases of alligator snapping turtles biting people’s fingers off. But these are very few in number and not very likely to happen.
What turtle has the strongest bite?
The snapping turtle is known for having one of the strongest bites among all turtles in the world. Of the different types of snapping turtles, it is the alligator snapping turtle that has the most powerful bite. The alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) has a bite whose force is around 160 Newtons.
But the turtle with the strongest bite is the common Toad-headed Turtle (Phyrnops nasutus). This turtle’s bite force was measured by Herrel et. al. (2002) at a whopping 432 Newtons.
Can an alligator snapping turtle bite you after its head has been cut off?
There have been some reports of snapping turtles being able to bite even with its head cut off. A Reddit user has shared information of how the heart of a snapping turtle would beat for 5 hours after its head was removed.
It was reported that the ability of the head to bite continued for a few hours. It is believed that some reptiles have this capability. Since reptiles are cold blooded, they don’t use up much oxygen. So its brain can survive without oxygen for a long time.
This is how it is possible for reptiles like snapping turtles to bite when their head that has been cut off.
How do you pick up an alligator snapping turtle?
Ideally, you should not handle an alligator snapping turtle, since it is likely to bite. But there may be situations where you need to pick it up and this is how you can do it:
- If the alligator snapping turtle is small, then hold it in both hands by the sides of the shell. Lift it up gently.
- You cannot do this for larger snappers, since it would be quite large.
- For a larger snapping turtle, use one hand to hold the shell just behind the head. Use the other hand to hold the shell behind the tail.
- Now lift it up gently. Remember a full-sized adult can weigh up to 175 pounds, so be careful.
- Never make the mistake of picking up a snapping turtle using its tail. This can cause damage to the turtle’s spine.
- Preferably wear gloves to get a grip and to protect your hand if the animal bites.