Can A Baby Snapping Turtle Bite?

What To Feed A Baby Snapping Turtle

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

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Very few numbers of people can resist touching a baby turtle. Even a baby snapping turtle looks cute and harmless. Adult snapping turtles are notorious for biting people. So, you may wonder, “Can a baby snapping turtle bite?” 

A baby snapping turtle may look harmless, but it can bite hard. After all, it is a snapping turtle. They are defensive and do not like to be held. Baby snapping turtles may try to bite if they feel threatened.

In this article, I will tell you how dangerous a baby snapping turtle bite can be and what to do if you get bitten. You should also know how to hold a baby snapping turtle properly. 

Is Baby Snapping Turtle Bite Dangerous? 

Baby snapping turtles are tiny little creatures. They are just 1.5 to 2.2 inches long. How dangerous can their bite be, right? But do not take a baby snapping turtle bite lightly.

No, snapping turtles do not have any teeth. But their jaws are powerful, and their mouth is shaped like a boney beak. The bite of a baby can be pretty painful, especially for children. When they bite, they intend to hurt. They open their mouth and snap on any flesh they can. 

Like adult snapping turtles, baby snapping turtles can extend their necks quite long and bite fast. Sometimes they do not let go right after biting, which can cause even more damage. You may end up getting a tiny puncture wound. If not treated properly, these wounds can get seriously infected. 

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Besides, baby snapping turtles often carry Salmonella bacteria. The bacteria are usually found on turtle skin and shell. So, when a baby snapping turtle bites you, it can transfer Salmonella bacteria. 

People infected by Salmonella bacteria can suffer from diarrhea, stomach pain, or fever. Adults may have immunity against Salmonella, but children may have to get hospitalized. 

Therefore, you should be careful while holding a baby snapping turtle. It is better to avoid touching wild snapping turtles. If you have a pet baby snapping turtle, you must learn how to hold it properly.  

What To Do When Baby Snapping Turtle Bites?

Snapping turtles are not always aggressive. They snap at people when they feel in danger. Snapping turtles born in captivity are even less aggressive. So, if you handle them properly, you should be fine. 

However, snapping turtles can be unpredictable, and you might get bitten. In such a situation, you must stay calm. 

If a baby snapping turtle bites you and does not let go, you should not try to pull it off your flesh or force open its mouth. Give it time to let you go. If you force the turtle, it might get even more scared and hold on to the bite. 

Killing the turtle is not a good idea. A dead baby snapping turtle’s jaw can put more pressure on the bitten flesh and cause more harm.

So, give the baby turtle some time. Once it calms down, it will let go on its own. You can also try putting it in the water. Then the turtle may try to escape. When it lets you go, back away from it. If you need to move the baby snapping turtle, hold it by the upper part of the shell and keep your fingers out of its reach. 

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How to Treat a Baby Snapping Turtle Bite?

You have to treat a baby snapping turtle bite according to how much damage it has caused. A baby snapping turtle may bite when it is scared. So, it will also try to keep its distance and just give you a warning snap. 

Sometimes it may snap and let go right away. But you should still wash the bitten area with antiseptic soaps. You must clean the wound and put in antiseptic if you see a minor injury or cut on the flesh. 

Baby turtles can bite hard, and people can use force in panic. The bite can create deep wounds or even tear off some skin. In such a situation, treat the wound more seriously. 

The wound might bleed excessively. Then use a clean cloth or bandage. Apply pressure on the wound to minimize the bleeding. When the bleeding stops, clean the wound with clean water for a while. Remove any dirt or debris from the wound. Then apply an antibiotic cream on the wound. 

You must seek immediate medical attention if the bleeding does not stop within 10 minutes. Medical personnel or doctor will treat your wound and cover it with a bandage or Band-Aid. Change the dressing and reply antiseptic or ointment until the wound heals. 

Treating a turtle bite immediately is crucial as it can become a severe infection without timely treatment. Besides, the Salmonella bacteria of the turtle can also cause diseases like stomach problems. 

How To Hold A Baby Snapping Turtle? 

You may have a pet baby snapping turtle or come across a wild baby snapping turtle which you need to hold for important reasons. You might need to check for injury or help it move to a safe location. So, you need to know how to handle a baby snapping turtle properly to avoid getting bitten by it. 

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Here is how you should hold a baby turtle:

  • Adult or baby snapping turtle, always try to approach them from behind so that it does not see you coming. 
  • Put your forefinger under the baby snapping turtle’s belly and between the rear legs. 
  • Place your thumb on top of the turtle’s shell. Then gently lift the turtle. Your finger should be in a pinching position and far from the baby turtle’s powerful beak. 
  • While putting it down, place the turtle on the ground and remove your fingers quickly. Then back away from the turtle. 

You can hold baby snapping turtles that are below five inches long using your fingers. But juvenile snapping turtles that are 5 inches or more should be handled with both hands. They can be strong and try to escape with all their might. 

Use the forefinger and thumb of both hands to pick up a juvenile snapping turtle. You should hold it like a sandwich in your hand. Again, never put your fingers near a snapping turtle’s mouth.  


So, can a baby snapping turtle bite? Yes, they can bite. Although baby snapping turtles are tiny, their bite can be very painful. Therefore, you must be careful. Since snapping turtles do not enjoy human touch, avoid touching them as much as possible. When you must handle them, follow the steps mentioned in the article to hold your baby snapping turtle. 

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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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