A reader shared these photos of a snapping turtle spotted near American Narrows on Rainy Lake.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website, the snapping turtle is Minnesota's largest turtle. As an adult, its upper shell, or carapace, averages 8-14 inches in length, and its weight ranges from 10-35 pounds. The largest known Minnesota snapping turtle weighed 65 pounds, and had a carapace that was 19.5 inches long.

Snapping turtles have a long tail, with a series of raised scales along the top that create saw tooth projections. Their head is large, with large and powerful jaws, and their neck is long. The snapping turtle is usually docile in the water but can be aggressive when it is on land, often lunging forward and striking out to snap at its foe.


Snapping turtles occur in virtually all aquatic habitats throughout the state, but prefer slow-moving, quiet waters with muddy bottoms and dense vegetation. They are common and often abundant in lakes, rivers, and marshes.

Snapping turtles eat both plants and animals, and will also eat dead animals. Potential foods include insects, fish, clams, crayfish, snails, worms, frogs, tadpoles, salamanders, snakes, turtles, birds, various small mammals, and aquatic plants. Snapping turtles must feed under water, as they need water pressure in order to swallow.

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