Discover nature this week, and watch for baby snapping turtles, hatching from eggs near Missouri’s streams, ponds, and wetlands.
Snapping turtles occur statewide – anywhere there’s permanent water. They prefer bodies of water with mud bottoms, abundant aquatic vegetation, and submerged logs.
Females travel overland during egg-laying season – mostly in late spring and early summer – and are often killed by cars.
Females dig nests in deep sand or loose soil and deposit up to two clutches of 20-30 eggs per season.
Studies have shown that up to 84 percent of these nests can be destroyed by hungry predators such as skunks, racoons, and mink.
In mid-August, surviving eggs hatch and baby snapping turtles emerge. These turtles take 4-7 years to reach maturity and can often live for more than 100 years.
Snapping turtles help keep populations of many aquatic animals and plants in check. While they may become a nuisance in some artificial ponds, studies have shown that they do not harm game fish or waterfowl populations in natural conditions.
Learn more about snapping turtles with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide.
Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.