Are Snapping Turtles Dangerous

Are Snapping Turtles Dangerous?

Are snapping turtles dangerous? 

There are two reasons why you are interested to know the answer to this question. Either you want to keep a snapping turtle as a pet, or you accidentally come across a snapping turtle in trouble, and you want to help it. 

Or, perhaps, you are just interested to learn more about these fascinating animals. Whatever the reason is, first, before you take any action, you need to know the answer. In short… 

Are snapping turtles dangerous? Snapping turtles are not dangerous, and won’t attack humans unless they are provoked. Snapping turtles feel vulnerable and threatened on land, and may attack if humans interact with them. 

If you are interested to learn more about snapping turtles, keep reading. We’ve answered other related questions, as well. 

Can a snapping turtle hurt you? 

It’s highly unlikely a snapping turtle to hurt a human. I never had heard such a story before. 

What’s most likely is a human to get bitten or scratched by a snapping turtle. There are cases where snapping turtles have attacked pets such as dogs and cats. 

Can snapping turtles bite fingers off? 

Yes, snapping turtles can bite your finger off, and there are numerous cases that have happened. If you ever get bitten by a snapping turtle, chances are it would not let go. 

Don’t panic and don’t try to pull off your finger immediately. Instead, submerge the turtle underwater and wait until it let it go. 

Do snapping turtles attack humans? 

Snapping turtles are not aggressive creatures by nature. They only attack humans if they get provoked. All animals are afraid, especially aggressive ones. The reason why snapping turtles may get aggressive lays in their shells. 

Snapping turtles are big turtles, and unfortunately, they can’t hide inside their shells. They had to develop other defense mechanisms in order to protect themselves. That’s why they attack and bite with their powerful jaws. They’ll attack humans only if they interact with them. Don’t try to pick up a snapping turtle. They have flexible necks and they will usually bite you even if you hold them by the edges of their shells. 

Are snapping turtles dangerous to swimmers? 

Snapping turtles inhabit ponds, lakes, and streams. Most of the time they lay on the bottom of the lake, covered in mud, exposing only their heads. That’s their way of hunting. 

Considering that, it’s logical for people to be afraid to swim near lakes where snapping turtles live. However, it’s highly unlikely snapping turtles to attack swimmers. Snapping turtles feel more comfortable in water and less threatened by humans, unlike when they are on land. 

Final Thoughts 

As with any other close encounters with potentially dangerous animals, with the snapping turtles, as well, you need to be very careful. 

If you keep this animal as a pet, you probably already know the protocol. Keep the interaction with your adult snapping turtle at a bare minimum. 

However, if you are in a situation where you need to help an unfortunate turtle, just follow a few simple rules. The first and most important rule is to never pick up a turtle by its tail. Its tail is connected to its spine, therefore picking up by its tail can cause serious spinal injury. 

Secondly, carefully pick up the turtle by holding the back edges of its shell. And thirdly, never pick up a snapping turtle, unless it is a very serious situation. Snapping turtles are not animals that like to be handled. 

7 thoughts on “Are Snapping Turtles Dangerous?”

  1. I feel so bad now finding out that I shouldn’t pick the turtle up. I went to the river recently and saw a cute little baby turtle, and naturally want to hold it, and I did. I didn’t know at the time it was a snapping turtle, but now as I am researching turtles to keep a a pet, I discovered it was. It never hurt me, and I didn’t hurt it, but I feel bad for making feel scared

    1. Charlie Martens

      Wikipedia says:
      In their environment, they are at the top of the food chain, causing them to feel less fear or aggression in some cases. When they encounter a species unfamiliar to them such as humans, in rare instances, they will become curious and survey the situation and even more rarely may bump their nose on a leg of the person standing in the water. Although snapping turtles have fierce dispositions,[18] when they are encountered in the water or a swimmer approaches, they will slip quietly away from any disturbance or may seek shelter under mud or grass nearby.

    2. Geoffrey Fidelman

      We have several in our pond and have been swimming with them, harmlessly sitting on the bottom, we have never had a problem. They are extremely docile in water, on land? Different story

  2. Yesterday I was cleaning a trout I had just caught in the water on a dock. I didn’t know there was a turtle under me,and it snapped my whole finger. I was lucky enough to have a very fast reflex to pull it out of its mouth after feeling the bite,and the inside of its mouth. They can be hard to see,a d are very big and fast with the snap! Be careful..

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