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New Snapping Turtle

Discussion in 'Turtles' started by Hankthewaterbeest, Sep 8, 2014.

  1. Hankthewaterbeest

    Hankthewaterbeest Active Member

    My dad found a baby snapping turtle in our neighborhood pool. It is about I've always wanted to add a turtle to my collection, so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for me. The turtle's shell is only about 2 inches long. I've put the turtle in a 10 gallon tank with a large tupperware water dish big enough for him to swim and a rock that he can use to get out and bask. The substrate is just a towel. I'm using a 50W intense basking bulb that appears to be heating the basking area to 80-85 F. Right now there is no UVB lighting, but when I get my paycheck next week, I will buy a bulb. I have a 30 gallon fish tank with a great filter, but right now it contains my young iguana, so once I get the iguana in a larger enclosure and the turtle is a bit larger, I will put the snapper in that.

    I just have a few questions about my snapping turtle because most of the care sheets seem to have conflicting information and I would like to know how other snapping turtle owners take care of them.

    First, what kind of snapping turtle is it? An alligator or a common? The shell seems very spiky like an alligator and it is a very dark brown like an alligator, but I've read that it can be hard to tell when they are this small. I live in Georgia, so I can find both of them in my area.

    Second, I went to the pet store to pick up crickets and I was going to get a few extra smalls for the turtle, but they seemed to be kind of big for it. I've tried feeding it some fish pellets and flakes, but it doesn't seem to want them. From my experience with reptiles, you get a better result when you feed live food, so what is a good live food to give it? I've also read that you have to offer them a lot of plants. Should I place the veggies in the water or leave out a dish for it?

    Here is a picture of the turtle
  2. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    You do realize how big this thing is going to get don't you? This is not something you are going to be able to house in a small aquarium! We are talking more like a stock tank. And even bigger if it is an alligator snapper. I would put it back where it was found and go for a smaller species if you want a turtle.
  3. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    As for diet, they are carnivors, so no plant matter. Unlike other species, they really don't require much basking area, as they tend to not bask much if at all. And as Merlin said, these guys get massive, your going to need a tank of probably 100 gallons, and maybe a lot more for just that one specimen. They also tend to stink a bit more than other turtles. So if your not willing to commit to that much space and work, put it back into the wild. Obviously not the pool it was found in but the nearest permanent body of water should be fine.
  4. Ok. I own a snapper, and Ill TRY to give you the run down on what you should do. I know Ill forget something, but bear with me. FIRST, I have a youtube video of my set up. Ill post that at the bottom. That should give you a visual aid of what I mean.
    Alright... lets start... That is a common snapping turtle. He will grow to be around 60 pounds in captivity, more if you are generous with the food. They are STUPIDLY easy to take care of, but you need a large amount of space to house them. Go to walmart and buy the biggest kiddie pool they sell. The one that is wider than you are tall. 6 foot diameter ish. This will house him for 4-5 years, and then you can worry about what comes next when it happens. For substrate, I recommend LARGE gravel. Small gravel he can accidentally swallow and give himself an intestinal impaction, something you DONT want. Many vets will refuse to work on a snapping turtle of any size. Larger stuff will be harder for even a large turtle to mistake for food, or accidentally swallow. Turn your turtle on his side, the width of his shell is about how deep your water should be. They dont bask, so there is no real reason to provide a platform, but there is no reason not to. Instead, they stretch their necks to the surface for air, hence the shallow water.
    Snappers are shy in their own element, and as such, they need lots of cover. I recommend going down to a local stream and picking up some cool looking drift wood for him to hide under. Boil it in a big pot if you can, so as to kill any parasites or snails. God forbid you get snails in any fish tank. My guy, Mr.Turtle (Amazing name) will eat absolutely anything I put in the tank. He ate reptomin on day 1 after being wild caught, so maybe I'm just spoiled in that sense. Smaller snappers love rosie reds, in a kiddie pool Id put in, maybe 40-50 and just let him pick them off while also feeding reptomin staple daily. Gold fish are easier for them to catch, but they are fattening. Wild caught minnows from a clean(ish) water source are fine too. Mine wont eat perch though. I gave him some as a baby, and I think the spines hurt him. ever since then he has steered clear. I have a perch as old as him in his pond. Mine has never touched crickets, and I had a tub of 100 sitting around because he wouldn't eat them. Feed some dried shrimp for color if he will take it. Baby snappers will NOT eat vegetation. Adults enjoy it, but reptomin staple should cover it if you are too lazy to clean half rotten veggies out of a canister filter.
    Speaking of filters, get a big one that you can lay on it's side. And an airstone. You need LOTS of water movement. If you dont have enough, the surface will scum up and smell horrible. Its not a maybe, its a given. Turtles are disgustingly dirty, especially snappers. They eat big and poop big. Due to the huge volume of water in a kiddie pool, I dont change water too frequently, but I do have to replace it constantly. Maybe once a week. There is a lot of surface area, and it evaporates quick. Make a sharpie mark at your desired water level (and move it as he grows) to keep track.
    Snappers dont need as much UVB as other turtles, and they definitely like shade, so mount a big uvb bulb at one side of the pond, and if he feels the need, he will bask.
    They are INCREDIBLY strong. Ive seen my 6 pound turtle casually push aside a 40-50 pound log after getting stuck. Snapping is the least of your concerns while handling. I did a photo shoot yesterday, and my hands are absolutely covered in cuts. Their strength plus their claws can make a boo boo for sure.
    Mine has an orange belly for some reason, not sure if hypo, his diet, or some local color morph, but he breaks the stereotype of commons being ugly. Ill include a picture of his plastron along with the video. If you have any questions, or I forgot to address anything, PLEASE let me know. Good luck and god bless. DSC00366.jpg
  5. Hankthewaterbeest

    Hankthewaterbeest Active Member

    Yeah, I know, neither the 10 gallon I have him in now, nor the 30 gallon fish tank I have are meant to be permanent tanks for him. Eventually I will splurge for the 100 gallon or a kiddie pool. I saw your setup, WillyWonkasTurtleFactory, and I like it. I just see no sense in upsizing the tank and having to replace a bunch of water all the time for a guy who's only 2 inches at the moment. I understand he will be larger soon, but I have lots of options. Housing is really not an issue for me. Sorry, I guess I should have made that more clear.

    I've done some more research on the difference between the common and the alligator and all signs are pointing to a common snapping turtle. The alligators actually don't really come up this far north in Georgia anyway, so I'm going to assume it's common until it can prove to me otherwise. Last night, I threw a large cricket in his water and he ripped the thing in half. It was awesome, so I went and bought 10 small crickets. Tonight, I will go out to the pet store and get some reptomin. He finished the dead portion of the cricket today, so I guess he doesn't mind whether his food is live or not.

    I'll go out tonight and find some wood in the creek behind my house to put in there. My grandpa just laid some large gravel (definitely too big for him to eat) in the yard, could I get a good bit of that, rinse it and lay it down? Or should it be fresh gravel? I've been looking around in the pet store for like the smallest bubbler I can get and I'll buy one next week. Like I said, the turtle is only 2 inches; once I spruce up this 10 gallon to make a mini-habitat and just work up from there.

    Thanks for the advice. I'm looking forward to how this guy will turn out :)
  6. Unwashed gravel is fine, but if you have a filter if will be hard on it. Either rinse it first, or turn off the filter and let the sediment settle. I made the mistake of adding 50 pounds of sand and a new filter at the same time on my western painted/catfish tank and I totally fried the poor thing. Remember, they grow like weeds, so I would recommend going big as soon as possible. Completely your choice though. My little guy outgrew a 10g in a month, and a small kiddie pool in 3 more. Since that video in the big kiddie pool, he has grown about 1 1/2 inches in shell, so just keep that in mind. If you give me a picture of his head from the side I can tell you 100% if he is CS or AST.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Btw, if you don't have any feeder fish in the tank, tap water is fine for a turtle, but I would not recommend hose water unless you know 100% that the hose is not tainted with lead.
  7. Logan

    Logan Elite Member

    I disagree with the tap water bit. I've seen what chlorine and chloramines can do to turtles first hand... maybe its different with snappers.
  8. They tend to be pretty hardy. With a good canister filter tap ends up fine, but I wouldn't advocate putting any animal in sitting tap water for that terribly long.
  9. Logan

    Logan Elite Member

    Lol. I won't even drink tap water. Especially here. The chlorine level here is outraaaageous. I know its different everywhere. Buuut, you're probably right, especially about wild caught ones being hardy. Lol
  10. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    I would skip the substrate altogether. They don't need it, and it will just make cleaning and maintenance more difficult.
  11. In Iowa our water is the dirtiest in the nation, but they still thrive~ Cant say the same about fish though unfortunately. I see where you're coming from though, so better to be safe than sorry!
  12. Hankthewaterbeest

    Hankthewaterbeest Active Member

    He seems happy and he has a good appetite. I filled the whole tank with water with a rock that sticks out where he can bask if he wants. He can poke out of the surface with ease. Here is a picture of the turtle from the side.
    WP_20140910_001.jpg WP_20140910_002.jpg
  13. Def. a common. Nice turtle~ Just please, please, please, never release him into the wild after captivity. Its not that he cant survive out there, but a snapping turtle that approaches people after years of being conditioned to accept food from terrestrial apes is liable to get eaten. Loath to say it, but turtle soup is delicious.
    Good luck with him! Snappers make great pets.
  14. CrazySnakeLady

    CrazySnakeLady Elite Member

    He is just the most adorable thing :)
  15. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Not to mention the fact that releasing captive animals back into the wild is not only ILLEGAL, but you may be introducing foreign pathogens into the ecosystem.
  16. KJ Rivas

    KJ Rivas Member

    Your baby snapper is cute!! A ten gallon tank with about six inches of water will be perfectly fine for a few years of his life, but then you will need to go larger as he/she grows. They do become tame to where they will snap food right out of your fingers. They do get rather large as the 41 pound 3-legged one-eyed male (Minn of the Mississippi) in my avatar is Side view.jpg

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