Habitat: Shallow water marshes, bogs, ponds or swamps, and coves of larger lakes, with soft muddy bottoms and aquatic vegetation; bask on logs, stumps, or banks; most commonly hibernate in bogs and are not readily observed. Females nest on cobble beaches, roadsides, old woods roads, gravel pits and even in gardens! Females do not lay eggs until around 20 years old, which magnifies the impacts to the species when adults are lost due to human activity.
Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
The largest freshwater turtle in Canada. Ontario’s most prehistoric-looking turtle species. Its long tail has a series of triangular spikes along the top that are reminiscent of those of a stegosaurus. The upper shell is tan or olive to black in colour, has a coarsely serrated front edge and three longitudinal ridges, and is often covered with algae. The upper shell length in adulthood averages 25–47 cm (10–19 in).
Habitat: Any freshwater environment, though it is most often found in slow-moving water with a soft mud or sand bottom and abundant vegetation. May inhabit surprisingly small wetlands, ponds and ditches. It hibernates in the mud or silt on the bottom of lakes and rivers, usually not too far from the shore. Females do not begin to breed until they are 17 to 19 years old. Lifespan in the wild is poorly known, but long-term mark-recapture data from Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada suggest a maximum age over 100 years.
How can you help:
- keep your eyes open for them on a road
- don't disturb or harass the turtles or nesting sites. Be respectful and observe from a distance.
- do not drain wetlands
- follow steps as outlined in General Wildlife Stewardship