If you are a turtle lover, surely you know about snapping turtles. They are one of the most defensive turtle species. With their strong jaw and heavy claws, they give a good scare to people or animals that get too close to them. But the ferocity of snapping turtles does not always protect them. Some predators can seriously harm a snapping turtle.
If you own a snapping turtle, you should know about the predators. Rats, raccoons, crows, eagles, coyotes, and snakes are common predators known to attack pet snapping turtles. Besides, these turtles can be attacked in the wild by fish, bears, alligators, and others.
In this article, I will talk about the most common predators of snapping turtles you should be aware of and how you can protect your snapping turtle from them.
What Are the Predators for Snapping Turtles?
Compared to adult snapping turtles, snapping turtle eggs and hatchlings are the most vulnerable to predators. These predators are not only ferocious animals. Even rats and ants can harm both common and alligator snapping turtles.
Here is a list of predators that are dangerous for both Common and Alligator snapping
1. Raccoons and Skunks
Raccoons are notorious for attacking turtle nests in the wild. But do not think your snapping turtle is safe in an indoor enclosure. Raccoons and skunks are intelligent enough to get inside your house and attack your pet.
Raccoons and skunks can harm young common snapping turtles. They enjoy eating turtle eggs. They can also eat baby snapping turtles by breaking their shells with their sharp teeth.
How to Protect Snapping Turtles from Racoons and Skunks
Luckily, there are many ways to protect your snapping turtle from a raccoon or skunk attack. A simple way is to use chicken wire to cover the turtle enclosure.
If you keep your snapping turtles outdoors, you can set up an electronic fencing system. You can also leave baits on a trap to catch the animals that visit frequently. Remember, the bait should be tastier than the snapping turtle so that the raccoon goes for it.
2. Predatory Birds
Snapping turtles are helpless against predatory birds. Hatchling and juvenile snapping turtles can be picked up by birds like crows, eagles, falcons, and herons.
Snapping turtles have hard shells, but it is not indestructible. Eagles, falcons, and crows pick up turtles and throw them on hard rocks or the ground to break open their shell. In the wild, herons attack snapping turtles in the water. They insert their long beaks into the turtle shell and devour the flesh.
How to Protect Snapping Turtles from Predatory Birds
Snapping turtles kept outdoors have a high chance of getting attacked by birds. To protect your turtle, decorate the pond or enclosure with plants. It will hide the turtles from birds watching from above.
Decoys are also an excellent option to protect turtles from birds. Put a scarecrow or a decoy of an animal in the turtle enclosure to scare off the birds. Again, do not forget to place a chicken wire cover on top of the turtle enclosure!
Even adult snapping turtles are not safe from coyotes, foxes, and dogs. A snapping turtle may not be on top of their food preference, but coyotes and foxes can still harm the turtles. Besides, a hungry coyote or fix does not care about the taste of their food.
These animals can easily sniff out a nest of a snapping turtle with their strong-smelling sense. They have sharp teeth, which they can use to bite off the limbs of an adult snapping turtle.
How to Protect Snapping Turtles from Coyotes
Coyotes can rack havoc in a turtle’s enclosure. Therefore, you should take serious action against them. Besides installing an electric fencing system, you can set up an ultrasonic sensory system to detect movements near the turtle enclosure. These systems often come with an alarm system that can alert you and scare off predatory animals.
If you do not want to harm animals or have a limited budget, install solar predator control lights. This light imitates predatory eyes at night and scares nocturnal or predatory animals. You do not have to think about power costs as the system works on solar power.
4. Fire Ants
Many owners do not even consider ants as predators of snapping turtles. What can a tiny little insect do right? But these tiny insects can be lethal when they work together. Their bite is venomous and can cause great pain to snapping turtles, especially hatchlings.
Fire ants live in moist areas with sunlight. You will find them in lawns and gardens. But they can travel a long way from their home to hunt food. Hence, the outdoor snapping turtle enclosure can become their target. There the army of ant prey on unhatched eggs, baby turtles, and food waste.
How to Protect Snapping Turtles from Ants
Take immediate action if you see any fire ant mound near the turtle enclosure. You can pour hot water on the mound to kill the ant. It kills most ants and forces the rest to leave the place.
Boiling water can burn the grass. So, you can sprinkle some baking soda or vinegar on the ant mound in your garden. It is a highly effective method.
When your snapping turtle finishes eating, clean the leftover food. Fire ants often enter the turtle enclosure for leftover food and attack the turtles.
Adult common or alligator snapping turtles can fend off rats by attacking them with their powerful jaws. But they may not protect themselves when they brumate. Besides, rats are notorious for eating the limbs of young turtles.
They can climb the walls of the turtle enclosure and attack turtles. Moreover, they can dig under the fence of a turtle enclosure and get to the turtles.
How to Protect Snapping Turtles from Rats
When you build an outdoor enclosure for your turtle, build the walls from deep under the ground. Then the rats cannot dig under the enclosure walls to get in.
When your turtle bromates, bring it indoors. The indoor turtle tank/enclosure should be high above the ground and use chicken wire to cover the top.
Snakes are not much of a big threat to adult common or snapping turtles. However, snapping turtle eggs and snakes are not safe from snakes. The shells of baby turtles are soft. Large-size snakes, such as Kingsnakes, Desert Snakes, Corn Snakes, Ball Python, Water Snakes, and Garter Snakes, can easily eat baby turtles.
Your snapping turtle should be safe in an indoor enclosure. However, if you keep your turtle outdoors, it can attract snakes. Therefore, take extra protective measures for your outdoor turtle enclosure if you live in an area where snakes are seen.
How to Protect Snapping Turtles from Snakes
Using snake repellent is the best way to keep snakes away from your snapping turtle enclosure. But make sure the repellent is not harmful to your pet.
I recommend the Victor VP364HE Snake-A-Way Hose-End Spray. It contains natural elements such as Garlic, cedarwood oil, cinnamon oil, and sulfate.
This snake repellent works against both venomous and non-venomous snakes. Sprinkle some snake repellent around your turtle enclosure. One application can last for three months.
Yes, humans are one of the top predators of snapping turtles. Humans are responsible for reducing the number of snapping turtles in the wild. Many people around the world eat turtle soup. They do not care how they get the turtles to cook.
So, do not be surprised when you find a thief sneaking into your property to steal your snapping turtle. Even the eggs are not safe from these thieves.
People also kill turtles on the road. Turtles are slow animals. Hence, they often fall under the car of a reckless driver on the road.
How to Protect Sapping Turtles from Humans
Motion sensors are helpful devices to protect an indoor or outdoor snapping turtle enclosure. In addition, set up security cameras for your outdoor turtle enclosure.
Get a motion sensor that alerts your smartphone when unusual movements are detected. This way, you can know when suspicious people or predators get near your snapping turtle.
If turtle stealing is frequent in your area, use a padlock to keep the turtle enclosure secure. Training a dog to protect your turtle from predators and thieves is also a good idea.
Can Snapping Turtles Protect Themselves?
The owners of pet snapping turtles can protect them and keep them safe. But what about snapping turtles in the wild? How do they defend themselves in the wild?
Snapping turtles cannot retract into their shells completely like other turtles. But luckily, they have powerful jaws, which they use on their predators. Hence, many predators in the wild do not attack snapping turtles.
Besides, snapping turtles either spend most of their time in or near the water. They retreat into the water whenever they feel danger. Although snapping turtles are slow on the land, they are pretty fast in the water.
Snapping turtles are aggressive compared to other turtles. They can defend themselves with their powerful snap. But many predators can overpower these turtles. Hopefully, this article gives you an idea about the predators that can attack your turtle. Now, you can take appropriate measures to keep your pet snapping turtle safe in its enclosure.