Yesterday one of my friends called early in the morning. He had an uninvited guest in his backyard, and he had no idea what to do. The unusual visitor was none other than the mighty snapping turtle, and the scene is not uncommon for the people living near a water source. What will you do if you find a snapping turtle strolling in your yard?
It is wiser not to panic if there is a snapping turtle in your yard. Wait for the turtle to leave or call a local animal rescue agency if it is injured. The snapping turtle may have reached your home in search of a nesting place. If that is the case, take steps to protect the eggs.
A visit from the snapping turtle is not unexpected if your house is near a water body. I will share detailed instructions on what to do and what not to do in situations like this in the following article. Give it a read, and you might find the tips helpful.
Snapping Turtle In Yard? Things To Do
If you are not so familiar with turtles, these odd visits will seem strange to you for sure. When the guest is a snapping turtle, I bet you will be scared out of your mind.
Snapping turtles look close to an alligator, and yes, they can be fierce to humans. Several reports have been filed where these turtles had bitten off a human finger. The strong jaws, beaks, and fast speed are the secret weapons of the snapping turtles.
Approach these turtles unprepared, and the next morning, you might wake up with fewer fingers or toes than before. So, do not be dumb. Here is what you need to do if there is a snapping turtle on your property,
1. Keep Your Calm And Let The Turtle Play
Having a visit from a turtle is the least expected event on any day. On the top, if the creature is a snapping turtle, you have all the rights to freak out. But yes, panicking at such moments will not help.
Remember, no turtle means any harm to humans. The chances are the creatures are more afraid to be on your property than you are of them.
I know snapping turtles look scary, and there are stories of the species chopping off fingers from human hands. Unfortunately, some of those stories are true. But here is a fact. A snapping turtle will not harm you unless you disturb it or try something stupid out of panic.
Many people try to make a funny moment out of the presence of the creature. They try to pet it or throw stones at the turtle. And I am warning you again. It is brutal, animal cruelty, and you might get hurt.
So, my advice to you is to keep calm. Do not provoke the snapping turtle with sticks, mops, or brooms. The turtle will come crushing with its powerful jaws.
If it is a male snapping turtle, it might be taking a stroll in your backyard. After some moment, it will leave the property.
If it is between May to October, the guest snapping turtle might be gravid. During those months, female snapping turtles often take walks in the neighboring places to search for a nesting spot. There is a possibility that the gravid turtle has found your yard suitable for laying eggs.
Do not worry if the mother turtle has deposited eggs on your property. Consider this as a blessing and take good care of the clutch.
You know, female snapping turtles do not wait for their eggs to hatch. They will deposit the eggs, hide them pecking down the dirt, and leave the yard. So, you do not have to worry about the situation anyway.
If you are not familiar with the turtle world, keeping your calm and waiting is the best option. Leave the snapping turtle alone. The creature will disappear without causing you and your family any harm. And yes, do not let your children play around with the guest turtle.
N.B: In case you are interested in learning how to identify turtles, follow this article.
2. Save The Future Babies
After the snapping turtle leaves your yard, I suggest you go outside and inspect the area. If you suspect that the female turtle has laid her eggs, then you need to be more careful with your steps. It is because the eggs are soft and vulnerable, your weight can crack them up.
Generally, the female snapping turtles are the masters of hiding eggs. They use their God-gifted quality to conceal the egg chamber, and it can be hard to find. But if you look carefully, you will spot the nest with loose soil and dirt on it.
As experts suggest, you should not mess with the nesting eggs. Do not move them from the chamber. Instead, take steps to protect the eggs from potential predators.
A study reports that only a few eggs can make it to the end of the nesting season. The rest of the clutch either gets destroyed or hunted by the predators.
So, what is your role here?
I suggest you build a fence around the nest so that raccoons, foxes, or other predators can not feast on the eggs. If the nest is in your garden area, please do not put any pesticide near the nest.
Usually, snapping turtle eggs incubate within 55 to 90 days. In some cases, the period might extend to 4 months. Here is what you should know about the incubation period of snapping turtle eggs.
When the hatchlings are out, remove the fence and make their way out. You can release them near a water body, which might be helpful for the babies.
If you have a snapping turtle in your home and you are planning a breeding, you should research egg care first. Here is an article on the hatching of snapping turtle eggs. I hope this will help you clear your doubts.
3. Call Animal Rescue
I understand if you are freaking out seeing the snapping turtle strolling in your yard. The incident can be panicking for people who know nothing about the species.
If you are panicking, or want the snapping turtle out of your property, do not do it yourself. You will probably get yourself hurt. Instead, contact the local animal rescue agencies or the state animal organizations for suggestions or help.
Usually, snapping turtles stay out of the human habitat. They are scared of humans and avoid chaos at all costs. Yet, these turtles pop up in some places to find a suitable nesting spot for their babies. Again, in rare cases, snapping turtles wander around in search of a new home.
Sometimes, the turtles get hurt while crossing the road or overstepping obstacles. If you sense the guest snapping turtle in your yard is injured, you should take steps instead of ignoring the situation.
Contact a local vet, call the turtle rescue agency, or any animal organization. Tell them about the condition and ask for help. In most cases, volunteers come to rescue the creature.
In some situations, you might have to drive the turtle to the vet or rescue home. Well, in cases like that, you need to be very careful while handling the snapping turtle. The slightest mistake can lead to severe injury.
Snapping Turtle In Yard: What Not To Do
Seeing a snapping turtle in your locality is not an everyday event. If you spot the species, you might get overwhelmed and do something stupid in the name of helping.
The snapping turtles do not need your help unless they are injured or unable to move. Here are the things you should not do,
1. Do Not Disturb The Snapping Turtle
The new generation is all about TikTok and making shots. No matter what fun idea you have about filming the snapping turtle, do not do it. Let the wild creature stroll and leave in peace.
Disturbing the snapping turtle will instigate the aggressive nature in it. In the end, the turtle will snap at you within seconds. So, it is better if you leave the turtle alone.
2. Do Not Throw The Snapping Turtle In A Water Body
Turtles are the master swimmers. It is a myth, and you should know it by now. Turtles can swim, but not all the species are great at the task.
If you see a snapping turtle on your property or any other turtle species, you might be tempted to throw it into a water source. But that can be proven a dangerous act. Why? Let me explain the whole thing.
A few years back, a video went viral on social media. The girl in the video threw a turtle in the water from a height, saying she was helping the poor buddy. But sadly, the creature was not a turtle but its close relative tortoise. And I hope you know tortoises can not swim.
Again, aquatic turtle species are good at swimming. But semi-aquatic or terrestrial turtles like box turtles avoid water as much as possible. Even though they can swim, they find trouble in balance and drown in deep water.
So, if you are not sure of the species of the turtle, throwing the creature into any water body is not recommended.
Now, suppose you have recognized the species, and you are sure it is a snapping turtle. Will you toss the creature into the river? The answer is still no.
Each snapping turtle has a native range, and it stays in that area. If the lake or river is not in its home zone, the turtle will find it challenging to return to the native habitat or survive.
So, what can you do? Of course, leaving the turtle on its own is the best option. You can call the animal rescue if necessary. Releasing the turtle near a water source is also a good idea.
3. Do Not Change The Direction
If you see the snapping turtle crossing your yard or garden, do not change its way. Snapping turtles have a strong sense of direction, and they are quite sure where to go.
When you change their initial direction, the turtles get in trouble finding their way home. So, if you pick up the turtle by any chance, release it at the same place, in the same direction it’s headed.
4. Do Not Welcome The Snapping Turtle Home
Wild snapping turtles do not culture the same habits as the captive ones. So, petting a wild turtle is not only challenging but also harmful for the creature. Moreover, raising wild snapping turtles at home is illegal in many states.
So, you should not pick up the turtle and start petting it. You are wasting your energy, and at the same time, you are committing a crime.
How To Pick Up A Snapping Turtle?
If the strolling snapping turtle in your yard is injured, you might have to take it to the vet. In situations like that, the art of picking up a snapping turtle will come in handy.
You know, snapping turtles act aggressively when they sense danger. So, approaching the species without knowing proper techniques will be foolish.
Here is the proper way to pick up a snapping turtle,
- A snapping turtle can sense everything going around itself. When you rush things, the turtle becomes more alert and prepares for attack. So, it is wiser to approach the snapping turtle from behind with steady and silent footsteps.
- Grab the snapping turtle from its back shell by placing both your hands behind the rear legs.
- Establish a solid grip and gently lift the turtle. Snapping turtles are heavy and have a slippery shells. If you can not handle the weight, the creature will fall and get injured.
- The sudden movement might astonish the turtle, and it will try to get away from your grip. But no matter what, do not let the creature slip away. Try to keep the snapping turtle as low to the ground as possible.
- The snapping turtle can bite you by extending its flexible neck. To avoid such an accident, keep the turtle’s head pointed to the ground. Also, do not let your body come near its jaws.
- Gently place the turtle in the container or on the ground and step back quickly.
- You can wear gloves the whole time to avoid scratches or bites.
Picking up snapping turtle hatchlings is less challenging. Carefully place your thumb on the center of the upper shell and forefinger on the plastron between the rear legs. Then, you can lift the baby with a solid grip.
You can know more details, tips, and tricks on handling a snapping turtle from this article.
What Does It Mean When You See A Snapping Turtle?
A snapping turtle in the yard generally indicates 2 different things:
- The snapping turtle is headed to someplace and passing through your yard
- If the snapping turtle is female and gravid, she might have found a suitable nesting spot for her eggs.
If there is a snapping turtle in your yard, do not panic. Instead, wait for the turtle to leave or call an animal rescue agency. In most cases, the snapping turtle does not damage the property or harm the people. But yes, if you provoke the creature, it can act aggressively.
Do you know there is a spiritual meaning of seeing a snapping turtle? Experts in this field suggest that a visit from a snapping turtle is not an ordinary event. So, it must mean something.
According to animal symbolism experts, snapping turtles indicates the end of a story or phase in your life. It means you can say goodbye to the burden you have been carrying, and you are ready to take a leap to your bright future.
Are Snapping Turtles A Nuisance?
Snapping turtles are anything but a nuisance. The species is actually modest and behaves well until you provoke it. While angry and in an attacking mood, a snapping turtle can bite off a human finger.
Look at the body structure of a snapping turtle. The creature can not retract its neck totally into the shell. It makes the turtle vulnerable and exposed to predators. This is the reason why snapping turtles snap too often and bite with such force.
Other than that, snapping turtles do not harm anyone. Even if the turtle comes to your yard or garden, it will do no damage to your property.
But yes, if you farm chickens, birds, ducks, or pet cats, then you should be extra careful. The alligator snapping turtles have bulky bodies and powerful jaws. Feasting on a mid-sized animal is fun for them.
However, many fish farmers think eliminating snapping turtles will increase the fish quantity in the river or pond. Honestly, the snapping turtles do not play that much significance in multiplying your fish production. Instead, keeping the turtles in the river or pond will keep the water source clean and eco-system balanced.
Snapping a turtle in the yard is indeed an unexpected event. But there is nothing to be afraid of. Leave the turtle alone and call the local turtle rescue centers. Do not let your children fooling around the creature. It is because the bite of the species can make anyone awful.
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