Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve, BC (Photo by Tim Ennis/NCC)

Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve, BC (Photo by Tim Ennis/NCC)

Snapping turtle (Photo by Ontley)

Snapping turtle (Photo by Ontley)

Eastern snapping turtle

Eastern snapping turtles are the largest freshwater turtles in Canada.


Their carapace (top of the shell) is tan, olive or black in colour and can grow to be 50 centimetres long. They can be distinguished by three raised ridges running the length of their shell.

The head, jaws, legs and tail on these turtles is thick, and there are small spikes along the length of the tail.

Range and habitat

Snapping turtles occur in the Maritimes, parts of Saskatchewan and occasionally in Alberta. In New Brunswick, the population is disjunct, which means that they are genetically segregated from the rest of the species.

This aquatic species can be found in freshwater habitats with slow-moving water and a soft mud or sand bottom.

Conservation status

Eastern snapping turtles are a species of special concern. They are also Specially Protected Reptiles under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.

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