June 23, 2022

"I don't know what he eats, but if it's human leg, I had a close call."

36 comments:

Heartless Aztec said...

Tomatoes, lettuce, brocoli and the like. Our backyard terrapin (Federally protected Gopher turtle here in Florida) LOVED being hand fed watermelon by my grandmother back in the day.

Humperdink said...

Close call? Yes you did. My friend and were I hunting in a swampy area. He saw two eyes peering at him, thought it was a snake. He grabbed a stick and poked it. It leapt up about a foot or so and snapped the 1" stick in half.

Lem said...

We came across a small turtle crossing the road and the ride share person asked me to stop for a minute, he gets out and gently picked up the turtle and gently put it down on the other side, where it was headed. Did you know turtles can be found in every continent, except Antarctica? And, by the time they showed up, dinosaurs were still roaming the earth. Fun facts.

gilbar said...

bad reputation?
Oh NO! Snapping Turtles have a GREAT REPUTATION... For making a Delicious Soup!!!
(which is Probably WHY they're So Pissed Off all the time)

Ann Althouse said...

I didn't notice this in person — in turtle — or even the first 2 times I watched the video, but on the third watch, I saw it. He's got 2 fangs in front and they seem to slowly pulsate. And at one point you see talon on his right "hand" un-retract. He's thinking about violence.

Another old lawyer said...

My family stops to move turtles off the road all the time. We live in a rural part of our county.

A few weeks ago one early morning with no traffic, I stopped in a lane (no shoulder, only square curb due to traffic circles and medium landscaping - don't get me started), put car's emergency flashers on, and moved turtle over curb and off the road. Got back in car, and was getting ready to move forward, when police lights are in my rearview mirtor. Policeman checking to see if I was broken down, and completely understood without criticism.

Beasts of England said...

They’re ornery little boogers, but they do make a fine soup…

Another old lawyer said...

But I wouldn't begin to move a snapping turtle.

Master Diver said...

Those aren't fangs, they are tendons under his jaw. The snapper has a horny beak, and very strong jaws. We have one at the SC Aquarium in a quarantine tank, and at full extension, his neck is over 18 inches long! He'll join his buds in the exhibit in another month or so.

gilbar said...

The Snapping Turtle At Dawn IS a Great name, for a movie!!

lonejustice said...

We had a snapping turtle on our farm in SW Iowa where I grew up. One day he "snapped" at one of our farm cats. Took a piece of flesh from her about the size of a 50 cent piece. Somehow the poor cat survived. I would never touch a snapping turtle.

R C Belaire said...

Many years ago when I was maybe 10, I caught one of these things while fishing on a small lake in northern Wisconsin. Scared the hell out of me when it came to the surface! My dad took it to an uncle who then turned it into soup.

James said...

They leave their normal habitat in June (just about the only time they over come out of the water) to lay eggs, usually somewhere within a few hundred yards of their home pond/river/marsh whatever. While they can certainly be ornery, they're mostly harmless. There are two species of snapping turtles, the common snapping turtle which is what you encountered (we have plenty of those in Ohio) and the alligator snapping turtle, which are much larger and live down south. The common snapping turtles can extend their necks quite far (their species name is "serpentini", for the snake-like quality of their necks) and quickly, so bites are common if you're not careful. If you need to pick one up (e.g. move it out of a road), grab the back of their shell on either side of the tail. There's some debate about whether it's bad for them to pick them up using the tail, but that seems unnecessary (and a little dangerous - if you're carrying one by its tail, then your leg is easily within the bite radius).

The larger alligator snapping turtles down south have been known to take a finger off on a few occasions, but the commons don't have the bite force for that. Can still give you quite the wound though.

They eat a lot of vegetation but will also eat anything they can get - fish, etc. The alligator snapping turtles have a "lure" on their tongue that looks like a worm - they'll hang out underwater, perfectly still with their mouths open, and an unsuspecting fish will swim in for a worm snack. It does not end well for the fish.

There's a spot near here with a boardwalk over a marshy area where common snappers are quite, well, common. My son and I go to check them out a lot, they're beautiful (in a derpy way) creatures. They mostly stay in the water but we'll occasionally see one of them out basking in the spring.

Lem said...

He's thinking about violence.

Putting Althouse’s turtlephobia aside. You can’t very well expect a turtle to look at you as just another Olympic competitor. Compared to this turtle Althouse must look like a couple of Lia Thomases in one body. The turtle knows he don’t have a chance. Of course violence is crossing his mind… he woke.

tim maguire said...

Another old lawyer said...But I wouldn't begin to move a snapping turtle.

Coincidentally, while biking through a city park last night, I came across a big (about 15" from head to tail) snapping turtle sunning itself in the road. I moved it to the side--I needed a few tries before I could resist dropping it when it lashed out at being picked up.

Lem said...

Oh my god. Did I misgendered that lovely turtle?

Am I going to lose my livelihood 🤭

L Day said...

Great delivery on the “human leg…,close call” part. Pretty funny, but you sure don’t want to get bit by a snapping turtle. They get pretty big too.

boatbuilder said...

Came across a big snapper last spring early sunday morning trying to cross a road that was going to get busy. The snapper was in the middle and confused. I had a big 2X6 in the back of the SUV so I put it near his head, he chomped it and I pulled him to the side of the road. I forget how I got him to let go. I think I just left him and came back later to get it.

Tina Trent said...

Easy to move, and you will save them. Approach from the back. Pick up by their shells. Carry. The head can't get your hands, nor the feet.

It will just crawl back to warm itself on concrete, but you will have tried.

michaele said...

The one time I encountered a snapper on our property, I noticed it was definitely not a box turtle. With some amount of respectful caution because of its looks, I tried to move it along with a large thickish stick. Yes, I poked and prodded and was shocked at its leaping mobility when it had enough. My husband and I somehow wrangled it into a sturdy thick sided box, put it the back of the pick up truck and drove it a good distance away to release it near a water source. We didn't want to become a habitat for snapping turtles.

ReadDude said...

My grandmother made a famous turtle soup (famous in our corner of Ohio, still on at least one restaurant menu) back in the day. One time, my grandfather caught a very very big snapper, around 24" across the shell. He kept it alive because he thought it may have been a record. Well that booger got away from him and while was trying to recapture the turtle, it stretch out its neck and took a huge chunk out of his calf muscle. My grandfather carried that scar for the rest of his days. So human leg CAN be on the menu for those guys.

Chest Rockwell said...

I grabbed one of these around its shell and basically threw it onto the median because it was trying to cross a busy road. It tried like hell to get my fingers. Not doing that again.

mikee said...

When I was a child in the 60s my sisters and I found a snapper of some size in our yard, migrating up from the creek in the woods to whatever greener pasture pond it could reach. We kids gleefully got our mother to help capture it. She immediately grabbed a 3 foot diameter galvanized metal washtub, used in the past by her mother since at least the 1930s, and dropped it over the beast. Then she told us to sit on the upside down metal tub until we figured out what to do with the vicious animal we now had trapped. Best Mom joke ever.

As I recall, we ended up watching her scoop the snapper into the washtub with a shovel, then she drove it to a neighbor's even-more-rural property and dumped it into the larger creek there. Farm-raised mothers have no fear. Possums, however, she refused to toy with, and insisted we leave them alone to wander back into the woods.

Quaestor said...

"Oh my god. Did I misgendered that lovely turtle?"

A few observations: Turtles are not insane, consequently they have sex, not gender. Humans also have sex and do not have gender. Screws have gender, including loose screws and screw-balls.

Male turtles have a convex plastron, though that may not be very obvious in the case of the common snapper, which has a very small plastron relative to its size. If you spot an adult snapper on land the odds of its being a female are very good.

They mainly eat fish, frogs, crayfish, and the occasional duckling. They also dine on leafy plants, but rarely. When you see a snapper on land, one of two things is true, either it's a nesting female, or it is seeking a new habitat.

Females need a nesting site that is reliably dry, their eggs can't endure prolonged dampness, and sandy enough to be excavated. Finding such a spot could be a long journey from their home pond, including crossing roads and risking the concomitant hazards. Snappers often return to the same nesting area year after year,
how they find their way is unknown. The hatchlings find their way to home waters with remarkable accuracy, which is another testudinal mystery. Pheromone trails have been suggested.


LakeLevel said...

My wife stopped to help an elderly neighbor who couldn't get her car out of her garage because she didn't want to run over a medium sized snapping turtle. My wife prodded it with a broom handle from the garage and the turtle proceeded to snap the broom handle in 2. Yikes!

Quaestor said...

"Well that booger got away from him and while was trying to recapture the turtle, it stretch out its neck and took a huge chunk out of his calf muscle."

We have two members of the Chelydridae in North America, the common snapper (the turtle in the Althouse video is an example) and the much larger alligator snapper. Several other genera live in Central and South America. There are no members of the family native to the Old World.

The common snapper has a very long, very muscular, and very flexible neck. Handling one safely is real problem. Oddly, though the alligator snapper's jaws are much more formidable, its neck is shorter and less agile. If an alligator snapper must be handled one can take hold of the carapace at the overhang of the neck opening and the caudal overhang without too much risk of being bitten or clawed. Ironically, it's the smaller common snapper that's more difficult to handle. Try that grip on a common snapper and you'll regret it.

Quaestor said...

Althouse writes, "He's got 2 fangs in front and they seem to slowly pulsate. And at one point you see talon on his right "hand" un-retract. He's thinking about violence."

She's thinking about violence. An adult common snapper found on land is almost certainly female.

Fangs? Snapping turtles have no teeth. In fact, the last member of the Pantestudines clade that had teeth went extinct in the Mesozoic. Sounds like you've met a real teenage mutant ninja turtle. Lisa del Giocondo, perhaps?

Fangs that pulsate? Weird. Teeth generally don't do that. Got some good pictures you might share with the curious?

Quaestor said...

After studying your video as closely as the resolution will allow, I think the pulsating fangs are skin tubercles that are a bit more conical than globular. That sort of throbbing of what we might commonly call the turtle's throat is just normal respiration. The lungs can only expand in that unprotected area for obvious reasons.

Big Mike said...

I’d like to remind people that turtles are cold-blooded, so the snapper that simultaneously attracted and frightened our hostess was most likely trying to get sunlight on its shell to warm itself up in the early morning sun. How fast it could have lunged while still in a torpid state is something I don’t know, but certainly it would not have the quickness of a snapper that was warmed up.

Harold said...

We used to go camping a lot when I was in grade school and we always set out trot lines in a river backwater to catch snappers and catfish. We'd fry up the catfish the day we caught them but the turtles we took home and kept for a week or so before we butchered them and froze the meat. At the end of the summer we would have a turtle fry at the campground. My grandmother and aunt battered the chunks and fried it like chicken. It was pretty tasty.

Narr said...

He (she?) is no Gamera, but still.

Might have got you, but they need a good running start, as they do for leaping atop fenceposts.

Our dog sniffs out box turtles in our back yard sometimes. The last one had some marks on the shell that might have indicated somebody had been gnawing at it. I moved it to the yard next door, where it could find a new life without dogs or people (the place was empty for about
four years).

Paul From Minneapolis said...

Others have pointed out that common snappers have long necks and can stretch them out quickly to take a snap but I just wanted to verify: until you see it happen you would not believe just how quickly they can strike.

A couple years ago I was driving to a fishing spot on the edge of the Boundary Waters and spotted a big snapper on the shoulder, right next to a small bridge over a creek. I decided I just wanted to get a couple pictures so I parked maybe 30 feet down the road and started walking back. I hadn't taken two steps before he raised his head slightly, took one step and slid 20 feet down the muddy bank into the creek and disappeared. He had it all set up.

Quaestor said...

"Tomatoes, lettuce, brocoli and the like."

No, Heartless, no. Snappers are 99% meat-eaters sometimes as predators, but mostly as scavengers of dead fish, frogs, etc. Whatever is dead and in the water is lunch. The one percent represents a few captive-bred snappers that will take an occasional peck at arugula. Other aquatic turtles, including the Chelonioidea (marine turtles), the Trionychhidea (soft-shelled turtles), and the Emydidea (sliders, pond turtles, terrapins) are carnivores, though a few members of the Emydideaclade are strictly herbivores.

The land-dwelling Testudines (tortoises and box turtles) are mostly plant eaters, but island tortoises like those native to Mauritius, Christmas Island, and others, eat a lot of land crabs. All of them eat some meat from time to time. (Vegans don't live 200 years. Mostly they live about 5 years, the average endurance of the vegan lifestyle. Upper-middle-class females in the 12-25 bracket aren't noted for their fidelity.)

Quaestor said...

You may wonder why the smaller common snapper has that long and mobile neck while the alligator snapping turtle (unofficial maximum weight: 400 pounds) has such a short and relatively stiff neck. It's lifestyle.

Common snappers actively prowl the water for dinner opportunities. Some years ago I watched a mallard couple and their brood as they crossed my favorite bass pond. It wasn't long before I noticed a snapper bringing up the rear of the line of ducklings. The turtle put on a bust of speed and snatched Tail-End Charlie with a single lunge of that impressive neck.

Alligator snappers prefer a more sedentary approach. Like bass fishermen, they present a lure in a likely spot and wait for a strike. The snapper's lure is his tongue.

Tina Trent said...

Alligator turtles are God's worst joke. We have one the size of a truck tire that regularly gets flipped over when it rains hard. It's terrifying. It's also probably 60 plus years old.

We look for her and flip her with a shovel after a hard Georgia mountain rain. The least we can do for her, as cattledog Rocco eats all her babies every year no matter how hard we try to stop him. When he comes in poochy-mouthed and smelling a certain way, we know: baby turtle.

Hopefully one of them will bite the crap out of his tongue and he'll cut out this horrific behavior. Poor turtle. It takes her days to lay her eggs. Or whatever they are. Eggs? Little turtles? I don't know animals. I though a goat was a cow with a narrow head in a sweater for an entire year when I lived in Atlanta. I had a lot of Mexican neighbors.

Otherwise, I am bright enough.

Alligator turtles are the ugliest creatures in creation.

A Nok said...

👍👍👍..