Are Snapping Turtles Good Pets? [Must Read Before Buying]

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Many people love to have turtles as pets for their docile nature. When you visit a pet shop, you can get tempted to buy a baby snapping turtle seeing how cute it looks and its cheap price. But are Snapping Turtles good pets? Before getting a snapping turtle, you must consider a few facts. 

Snapping turtles are not very common as pet turtles for some valid reasons. They can be great pets for experienced turtle owners. But beginners may find it challenging to keep snapping turtles because of their defensive behavior. 

This article will tell you what you need to consider before buying a snapping turtle. You can then decide if a snapping turtle is a suitable pet for you. 

Can You Tame a Snapping Turtle?

So, you want to get a snapping turtle. You think you can tame it eventually by feeding it and taking good care of it. However, taming a snapping turtle is more complex. In fact, it is rare to see a pet snapping turtle being friendly with its owner. 

Many turtle species are great as pets for being timid and low-maintenance. They become friendlier with their owners at some point. But Snapping turtles are different from them. They prefer to stay isolated in the wild, away from potential threats. Snapping turtles born in captivity has the same instinct. 

They cannot get inside their shell when they feel threatened. Instead, they bite their threats. So, if you plan to tame one, keep your expectations low. 

However, there are rare cases of owners being able to tame snapping turtles. If you are interested in getting a snapping turtle, get a baby snapping turtle. Then you will have a higher chance of raising it tamed and less hostile towards you. 

To learn more about taming snapping turtlers, you can read “Can You Tame A Snapping Turtle?”

Will A Snapping Turtle Chase You?

You may have seen news of snapping turtles biting people. So, does a snapping turtle chase people? The answer is no. Snapping turtles do not chase people on land or in water. 

Snapping turtles see humans as their predators. They fear us. Snapping turtles are actually quiet reptiles. They do not attack people unless they feel threatened. Hence, you should be safe if you do not provoke a snapping turtle or get too close to its mouth.  

What to Know Before Buying a Snapping Turtle 

One should consider the pros and cons of keeping snapping turtles before getting a snapping turtle. You need the space and resources to keep a snapping turtle. 

Here are some of the crucial factors you should consider before getting a snapping turtle:

The Size of Snapping Turtles

The size of snapping turtles is a crucial factor to consider. You have to set up a habitat according to their size. 

Snapping turtles are one of the largest turtle species. The baby snappers are tiny, just like any other turtle. But they can grow to a massive size. Common snapping turtles can grow up to 6 to 7 inches within three years. 

The average size of an adult common snapping turtle is 8 to 12 inches. On the other hand, Alligator snapping turtles grow relatively slowly, but an adult can be 14 to 16 inches in carapace size. 

Hence, build a large habitat for your snapping turtle. Baby snapping turtles can be in a 55-gallon to 60-gallon tank. Eventually, you have to shift them to a 250-to-300-gallon tank. 

Snapping turtles are often kept in large tanks or outdoor ponds. Arraigning a big habitat is costly. Besides, you have to maintain the water quality.  

The Lifespan of Snapping Turtles

Snapping turtles live long life. While common snapping turtles can live 30 to 40 years, Alligator snapping turtles can live up to 70 years. Thus, the owners of snapping turtles have to hand down their snapping turtles to the next generation. Snapping turtle owners often release the turtles in the wild, which is dangerous for a snapping turtle born in captivity. 

Are you ready for this long commitment? You have to take care of the snapping turtle for a long time and provide all the necessary care. Such a long commitment is challenging for everyone. So, think carefully before buying a baby snapping turtle.  

Snapping Turtle Behaviors 

Snapping turtles enjoy solitary life hiding from others. Hence, they can get very aggressive when anyone tries to get too close to them. So, you cannot walk around or show off a snapping turtle as you can do with other species of turtles. They might snap at anyone. 

Snapping turtles have powerful jaws. If you mistakenly put your hands close to their mouth, you may get surprised to see how fast a snapping turtle bites. They can tear off your flesh with their snap. However, this is primarily true for adult snapping turtles. Baby snapping turtles are less aggressive and cannot bite hard. 

Snapping Turtle Food Habit

Another thing you must consider is the diet of snapping turtles. 60% of their diet is meat or animal-based food. They prefer snails, fish, lobsters, and chicken. Their diet contains very little amount of vegetables. 

As snapping turtles get big, they require a good amount of food. So, consider whether you can provide sufficient food to your snapping turtle regularly. 

Handling a Snapping Turtle

The large size, weight, and behavior of snapping turtles make them difficult pets. Sometimes you have to handle and move around your turtle. When a snapping turtle grows old, it can gain a lot of weight. 

The average weight of common snapping turtles is around 10 to 35 pounds (4.5 to 16 kgs). Besides, snapping turtles can exceed their size and weight much more than you expect. A common snapping turtle can grow up to 20 inches and weigh 75 pounds. In comparison, an Alligator snapping turtle reached 26 inches and weighed about 175 pounds.

Hence, it is difficult to move around, and let’s not forget how hard snapping turtles can bite. Mishandling a snapping turtle can injure both the turtle and the owner. Therefore, you should know how to carry a snapping turtle properly. 

You should also know about the law of keeping a snapping turtle in your state. Many states allow snapping turtles as pets, but some may not. Alligator snapping turtles are not allowed as pets in most states in the US. It is better to get your state’s permission to have a snapping turtle and avoid legal trouble. 

Snapping Turtle Tank Setup Infographic

snapping turtle tank setup infographic

Want a printable version of this infographic? Click here!

Is a Snapping Turtle Good Pet for You? 

After going through all the points above, how do you feel about getting a snapping turtle? Snapping turtles are the “just look and no touch” pets. You should not get a snapping turtle if you want a friendly and cuddly pet. 

You should also consider the cost of keeping a snapping turtle as a pet for years. Moreover, snapping turtles are not a good choice for first-time turtle owners. 

However, you can get a snapping turtle if you have experience, space to accommodate it, and time to take care of it. 

A turtle enthusiast may find it rewarding to have a unique pet, like a snapping turtle. If you are one of them who enjoys a good challenge, you can buy a snapping turtle. 

Where Can You Get A Snapping Turtle?

So, you have finally decided to buy a snapping turtle. Now, where can you get one? Can you pick one from the wild? Well, that’s a big no!

Taking a wild snapping turtle at home as a pet is prohibited in many states of the US. Besides, wild snapping turtles can carry many bacteria with them that can cause harm to you and your family. 

Therefore, you should always buy a snapping turtle from a licensed seller or breeder. You can get snapping turtles from pet stores or order online. Before you get a snapping turtle, research the breeder or seller properly. You should buy snapping turtles born in captivity and not in the wild. 

The price of a snapping turtle varies a lot. Depending on the age, snapping turtles can cost $25 to $150 dollars. You may even find people selling baby snapping turtles for only $10. 


Are snapping turtles good pets? The answer depends on who is planning to get a snapping turtle. Snapping turtles may not be an ideal choice for beginner turtle enthusiasts. They are challenging to handle and hard to tame. But an experienced turtle owner may keep a snapping turtle. They like the challenge of having such a unique and intimidating reptile as a pet. 

About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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