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Watch: How to safely handle a snapping turtle

Patsy is an incredible turtle. She's a Common Snapping Turtle, not to be confused with their southern cousins, the Alligator Snapping Turtle. Common snapping turtles are considerably less dangerous, having a much more docile personality and a bite strength that is far less powerful. But, they can still be very defensive on land for several reasons. They do not have the ability to retract their head and limbs fully into their shells. This leaves them vulnerable to predators and they will snap at any creature or person who approaches them when they are feeling threatened. Common snapping turtles are very capable swimmers and they will retreat from perceived threats in the water. They can hold their breath for a long time and their large feet with webbed claws enable them to move quickly when they need to. They are also capable of clawing their way over the bottom, making them very agile on the mud or rocks in the water. They are curious animals when they are feeling comfortable and they will not always shy away from people in lakes or ponds. But they are not typically aggressive and are not likely to bite a person. Snapping turtles are carrion feeders. Essential to lakes and rivers for their ability to eat dead animals, they keep our water clean. This is also why they need strong jaws and beaks with sharp points. They rip their food apart to swallow it in chunks. Snapping turtles are frequently seen on land as they migrate for food or to find breeding opportunities.
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