Alligator Snapping Turtles eat often. Don’t feed them too much, though – just what they can eat in 10 minutes, or a portion the size of their head…
When the alligator snapping turtle is a baby, it needs to eat every day. Juvenile and subadult alligator snapping turtles can be fed on alternate days. A full-grown adult alligator snapping turtle can be fed once every 2 or 3 days. The age of the turtle and its size determines how often it should eat.
The main thing to remember here is that if you feed your turtle too little, it’ll get weak and sick. By the same token, if it feed too much, it’ll get obese and sick. In this article, we’ll learn more about the eating habits of these fascinating creatures.
What do baby alligator snapping turtles eat?
Baby alligator snapping turtles generally eat small fish. They also eat snails and crayfish.
Insects that are found in water are also prey for the baby alligator snapping turtle. Sometimes, they even eat dead animals, but they prefer to hunt by ambush.
How long can an alligator snapping turtle go without eating?
A surprising fact is that alligator snapping turtles can go without eating for over 90 days. This doesn’t mean that you should not feed them for so long, though.
They can survive for a long without eating anything when adult because they have evolved to do so during the cooler winter months when they enter a state of dormancy known as brumation. The exact number of days would depend on factors like the turtle’s size, age, and environment.
What do alligator snapping turtles eat?
An alligator snapping turtle is an omnivore, but one which rarely actually eats any vegetable matter. They have a strong preference for meat and most of them simply refuse any vegetable matter.
Pet alligator snapping turtles can be fed pellets that are food made especially for them. While you should not give cheap processed food, nutritionally-balanced pellets from well-known brands are great.
Again, don’t worry if your snapper refuses to eat any veg’ whatsoever, it’s just nice to occasionally offer in case. After all, I did get one to eat a strawberry once (literally once in around 6 years of keeping them).
In the wild, alligator snapping turtles survive on fish and meat, either dead or alive. Avoid cooked meat, meat with high fat content, and meat containing strong bones.
How much does a snapping turtle eat a day?
There is a common practice followed for feeding snapping turtles known as the 15 minutes method. You need to offer sufficient food for the turtle and allow it to eat its fill for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes remove the food left uneaten. While this method is followed by many, it can make your turtle overeat. If your turtle starts to look like it’s too fat to fit in its shell, then it might be best to reduce it to how much it can eat in 10 minutes!
Another popular method is to feed your turtle food that is the size of its head. This doesn’t look like a huge amount, but these reptiles have slow metabolisms.
Are alligator snapping turtles endangered?
Alligator snapping turtles are not endangered species. However, the number of these animals is slowly declining due to various reasons like degradation of their habitat and over-harvesting for meat. This is why I consider them to be technically endangered, though it is isn’t legally official yet.
Some states have banned collecting these turtles from the wild due to this reason.
How big do alligator snapping turtles get?
The size of alligator snapping turtles can be anywhere from 35 to 81 cm in length. The average length of the male alligator snapping turtle is around 73.7 cm (29 inches).
The female alligator snapping turtle is around 55.9 cm in length (22 inches). The heaviest specimens tend be older males, with some recorded in excess of 200lbs (90kg). In general, however, adults tend to be 30 to 45lbs in weight when fully grown.
What time of day do snapping turtles eat?
In the wild, snapping turtles mostly eat at night. That is when they venture out to hunt or to scavenge for food.
When kept as pets, it is preferable to feed them in the evening. The reason is that they are nocturnal by nature and feeding in the evening fits their natural activity rythm.
How fast do alligator snapping turtles grow?
The alligator snapping turtle grows at approximately one to two inches every year. You need to keep this in mind while selecting a tank for your turtle.
Baby Snappers’ grow much faster than adults, but still not particularly quickly in terms of overall length.
The best way to monitor the growth of a baby is to weigh it once every couple of months and record it. Hatchlings start out gaining as little as 5-10 grams in a month, then start piling on 20-100grams between weigh-ins by the time they are a year old.
What is a snapping turtle’s favorite food?
Being omnivores, the alligator snapping turtle would eat pretty much anything. That said, it has a strong preference for fish.
Really, I’m using the term ‘omnivore’ loosely when it comes to this species. They are technically omnivores, because they do very occasionally eat plant matter. Whether they do is accidentally or not is a question of debate…
What they really love, and what they evolved to eat for their principal food source, is fish. This is why they have a worm-like appendage on the end of their tongue. They use the growth, known as a lingual lure, to catch hungry fish.
Alligator snapping turtle diet in captivity
If you keep an alligator snapping turtle diet as a pet, then you should include the following in their diet:
- Pellet food (made specifically for turtles by a brand like Repashy or ZooMed).
- Slow moving fish.
- Earth worms.
- Chopped bait fish
Avoid introducing live prey that moves fast. This turtle can even scavenge on dead animals, so you can feed it frozen and thawed prey.
It is important to offer variety in the diet for your captive alligator snapping turtle. This ensures your pet gets the nutrition it needs to thrive.
What fish do alligator snapping turtles eat?
Fish is the favorite food of the alligator snapping turtle. While these turtles can eat different kinds of animals, they mostly prefer slow moving fish.
It is important to understand their feeding behavior. They sit usually at the bottom of water that is murky, so they cannot be detected.
They keep their mouths open with their tongue out, wriggling like a worm in distress. This can attract fish that come close to check it out.
They can sit for long underwater without moving. Since they sit in murky water, they are covered by algae and fish are not able to spot them.
Once the fish comes close the turtle launches an ambush attack to feed on the prey. By snapping their mouths shut extremely quickly, the often either swallow the whole fish, or wound it so badly it’s incapacitated.
Other fish they are known to eat include:
*Reference: Ruth M. Elsey “Food Habits of Macrochelys temminckii (Alligator Snapping Turtle) from Arkansas and Louisiana,” Southeastern Naturalist 5(3), 443-452, (1 September 2006). https://doi.org/10.1656/1528-7092(2006)5[443:FHOMTA]2.0.CO;2
Do alligator snapping turtles eat other turtles?
In the wild, alligator snapping turtles eat other turtles. They can even eat small alligators. One study even found the remains of a wild hog in the stomach contents of an alligator snapper!
This is a reason you should not keep an alligator snapping turtle in the same tank as another turtle. The other animal can be attacked and literally chopped to bits by the carnivorous alligator snapping turtle.
FAQs relating to how often alligator snapping turtles eat?
The FAQ’s given below will help you know how often alligator snapping turtles eat and other related issues.
Do snapping turtles remember you?
It is a known fact that like all other turtles, snapping turtles can also recognize and remember you. It can move towards you in its tank when it sees you walking into the room. There are even some pet owners who claim that their turtles can differentiate them from their family members.
How do you know if a snapping turtle is happy?
If your snapping turtle is happy, you will find it exhibiting normal behavior. It would eagerly accept food and wait for you at feeding time. A healthy Alligator Snapping Turtle will be resting almost motionless for most of the day, then exploring and feeding at night.
Do snapping turtles like to be petted?
A snapping turtle is a pet meant for pet owners who like to see the pet and enjoy watching it. If you are the type who likes to touch, cuddle, or play with your pet then the snapping turtle is not for you. As their name suggests, they tend to snap or bite. You cannot pet this animal and should leave it alone.
While they are quiet pets and learn to recognize the owner, they are ideally left alone. You must know their bite is quite strong (158 Newton force). The bite can be painful and can easily draw blood. With various types of pathogens in its saliva, the bite can lead to an infection.
If not treated, the bite can lead to severe consequences that include systemic infection. This is why it is best not to touch a large snapping turtle unless you have had specific training.
What is the lifespan of a snapping turtle?
The lifespan of the alligator snapping turtle can vary from 20 years to 70 years. 70 is the maximum age of an alligator snapping turtle found in captivity. While the lifespan of these animals in the wild is not known, in captivity it can live on average for 50 years.
This is a key consideration to keep in mind if you plan to get one of these as a pet. Many people love exotic pets and rush to get a snapping turtle as a pet. However, you need to factor the life span. It is possible that your pet may outlive you.
Keep this in mind before you decide to get one. You need to take care of the pet for probably your entire life span.