KDWPT / KDWPT Info / News / News Archive / 2006 Weekly News Archive / 12/14/06 / NEW STATE RECORD COMMON SNAPPING TURTLE CAUGHT


45-pound monster breaks old record by 13 pounds
PRATT -- On Oct. 6, two Haven men caught a new Kansas state record snapping turtle on the Arkansas river near their home town. The monster weighed 45 pounds and was 16 inches long. The previous largest Kansas common snapper was caught by Ian and John Bork on April 23, 1992, in Barton County. That specimen weighed 32 pounds. The world record for this species (Chelydra serpentina) is 86 pounds, 19 ½ inches.

Common snapping turtles live about 28 years in the wild, and specimens living more than 40 years are well documented. They are found throughout the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Snappers are omnivorous and will consume anything that will fit in the mouth, including algae, duckweed, sedges, insects, crayfish, earthworms, frogs, fish, mice, and other turtles. When young, common snappers are active foragers, but as adults they more commonly ambush prey. The flesh and eggs of common snappers are edible and highly desirable in parts of their range.

They are highly aquatic and rarely venture onto land except to bask or lay eggs. When searching for a suitable site to lay eggs in late spring, a female may travel as far as 10 miles. The nest is dug into the ground, and 20 to 40 round, hard-shelled eggs are deposited. Then the nest is covered.

The sex of common snapping turtles is determined by the temperature at which the eggs incubate. Those incubated between 71 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit produce predominately males, while cooler or warmer temperatures produce females.

In late October, most common snapping turtles settle into the mud bottoms of ponds or streams or beneath logs and remain there until warmer spring temperatures set in.

The new state record will be displayed alive at the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Pratt Education Center, located 2 miles east of Pratt. Eventually, it will become part of the herpetology collection at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays.

Images of the large snapper can be viewed online at webcat.fhsu.edu/ksfauna/herps/travis_temp/haven_snapper_1.jpg, webcat.fhsu.edu/ksfauna/herps/travis_temp/haven_snapper_2.jpg, and