Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

snapping_turtle (website)

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.

Quick Facts:

  • 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:

  1. Activities that can introduce or encourage the growth of invasive plants, such as dumping of garden waste and off-trail ATV use.
  2. Activities that pollute or change the water regime of wetlands.
  3. Activities that cause direct mortality of individuals or populations: legal/illegal hunting and illegal collection, fishing, and collisions with vehicles.
  1. 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).

More information:

Species At Risk Public Registry Profile

Ontario Species at Risk Profile

Funding for this project was provided through the Species At Risk Stewardship Fund