Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
Status in Canada: Special Concern
Status in Ontario: Special Concern
Status at SWCR: Common but Declining
These shy turtles resemble something from another era, with dark algae-covered shells, and long, ridged, dinosaur-like tails.
- It is Canada’s largest freshwater turtle, reaching an average length of 20-36 cm and a weight of 4.5-16.0 kg.
- It is primarily aquatic, and rarely leaves the slow-moving, shallow waters it inhabits.
- Snapping turtles are currently listed as a game reptile under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, despite being listed as a species at risk. Under regulation 665/98 (Hunting) of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, snapping turtle hunting activities must be reported annually.
Threats at the St. Williams Conservation Reserve:
Habitat Loss/degradation: due to fragmentation from road and other development, changes in hydrology and pollution of watercourses, and invasive plant species in wetlands.
Persecution/Collection: Snapping turtles breed very slowly, and excessive or illegal hunting and collecting is the primary cause of this species’ endangerment.
Activities that threaten Snapping turtle and its habitat include:
- Activities that can introduce or encourage the growth of invasive plants, such as dumping of garden waste and off-trail ATV use.
- Activities that pollute or change the water regime of wetlands.
- Activities that cause direct mortality of individuals or populations: legal/illegal hunting and illegal collection, fishing, and collisions with vehicles.
- Off-trail recreational activities that can damage habitat or harm individuals or nests such as trampling, crushing under vehicles, and collecting.
St. Williams Conservation Reserve management practices:
- Population monitoring
- Invasive plant control
- Enforcement of unauthorized trail use
What you can do to help:
- Follow the code of conduct for recreational activities in the Conservation Reserve and know and respect the current trail-use regulations.
- Clean your boots, bicycle tires, or ATV before and after visiting the SWCR or other natural areas to avoid spreading invasive plant seeds.
- Report sightings to the SWCR CC, or the Natural Heritage Information Centre.
- Report unauthorized trail use or any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).