Invasive Animal

Common snapping turtle

Chelydra serpentina
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Snapping turtles are a very large turtle with a powerful bite. Do not attempt to handle these turtles without proper safety equipment.

About This Species

Common snapping turtles are found throughout the Central and Eastern United States. In Canada, their native range extends from Southern Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia. In BC, Common snapping turtles have been found on Southern Vancouver Island – three individuals were reported near Port Alberni in 2012, where another adult was found in 2014. It is unknown how these turtles were brought to BC, they may be escaped or released pets, or they may have been used as stock animals for outdoor private ponds.

Common snapping turtles have a generalist diet – they will eat fish, other turtles, amphibians, and possibly even small rodents. They are much larger than any other turtle species found in BC, and may displace native turtles from their habitat, outcompete them for food and prey on native turtle hatchlings.

How to Identify

Fully grown adult Common snapping turtles can be between 20-50 cm long and weigh 4.5-16 kg. They are the largest turtle found in BC and can be easily distinguished from other species by their long tails and the backwards-facing triangular spines on their back ends of their shells.


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Take Action

Common snapping turtles may be sold as pets. But remember that they will grow to be as large as a stop sign and can live for over 100 years. Do not release Common snapping turtles into the wild – if you must dispose of a pet, please turn it in to the BCSPCA.

Don't Let it Loose

Don't Let It Loose

Learn about best practices

Invasive species are plants, animals or other organisms that are not native to BC, and have serious impacts on our environment, economy and society. Never release your plants and animals into the wild or dump aquariums or water garden debris into rivers, streams, lakes or storm sewers!

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