I grabbed my camera not wishing to miss a snapping opportunity and rushed outside making sure that my daughter's four dogs were not able to follow me. There alongside the fence to the corral behind the house a female snapping turtle was slowly making her way up the slope to the gravel drive.
|Common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)|
Unfortunately the dogs made their way through the flap in the garage door into the corral the other side of the green wire fence expecting me to play ball with them. They were most unhappy to be shouted at and warned to keep away from the fence - a snapping turtle can give a nasty bite; they are noted for their belligerent disposition when out of the water with a powerful beak-like jaws and their highly mobile neck and head.
This one proved no exception, hissing and rearing up to deliver warning snaps.
The carapace or upper shell may reach nearly 20 inches in length; this one was around 11-12. They can weigh from 10-35lbs.
She had to be moved from the area - to protect the dogs and to avoid her coming back to lay eggs in the gravel drive. Moving her was easier said than done. By now clad in tee shirt and track suit bottoms I had the idea of using a metal snow shovel to move her. But where to was the question. The shortest distance was 50 yards back into the woods and the swamp at the back of the property but that was where she had probably come from.
She was far from happy to be lifted on the shovel, hissing and trying to bite it. Lifting her was not easy as I had to avoid my bottom hand being within the reach of her snapping 'beak.' By the feel of her on the shovel she must have weighed over 10lbs.
My wife had the bright idea of moving her in a small car trailer. She tried in vain to climb up its sides. Eventually I transported her to the end of the road in front of the property and set her free over the other side of the main road.
We had a happy snapping ending after all. As long as she does not come back.