Snapping turtles are some of the largest freshwater reptiles in the United States. Found throughout much of the eastern US, these amazing turtles have a reputation for biting! In total there are only three species in the Chelydra genus, the common snapping turtles being the most common. Today we are going to look at these turtles to see the differences between males and females. Let’s see: male vs female snapping turtle; what makes them unique?
Comparing a male and a female snapping turtle
|Mate||Weight: 10-35lbs||Weight: 10-20 pounds|
|tails||Long, thick tails.||Short, thin tails.|
|Plastron||Curved stock tie.||Flat stock tie.|
|Reproduction||Mating and depositing sperm.||Lays between 25-80 eggs per year.|
|Country Travel||Travels to new territory, but not as often as the female.||Frequently travels overland to lay eggs.|
The 5 main differences between a male and female Snapping Turtle
The main differences between male and female snapping turtles are that males are larger, have longer tails, and have a curved plastron (lower shell).
Snapping turtles are some of the most common and fearsome turtles in the eastern United States. Heavily armored and stealthy, these reptiles are known to “bite a finger off” if given the chance. Luckily they don’t really like being around people and swim away before we ever get close.
Although they have a bad reputation, snapping turtles have been around for a long time and play an important role in aquatic ecosystems. The Snapping Turtle is the most common member of the Chelydra gender and the one most people know. While it’s not easy to spot it right away, there are some distinct differences between the different species and even between the sexes. Today we are going to examine the differences between male and female snapping turtles.
Male vs Female Snapping Turtle: Size
In many species there is a size difference between males and females. In the case of snapping turtles, males are generally larger. On average, male tortoises grow between 10 and 35 lbs, although they don’t technically have an upper limit. The majority of turtles over 22 lbs are old males.
Female turtles are usually smaller than males. On average, a female tortoise weighs between 10 and 20 lbs, but can theoretically grow taller than that.
Male vs Female Snapping Turtle: Tails
The easiest way to tell the difference between a male and female snapper is their tail. In males, the tail is longer and thicker than in females. For most people who identify by eye, this is the best method of sexing them.
Female turtles generally have shorter, thinner tails compared to males.
Male vs Female Snapping Turtle: Plastron
The plastron is the part of the shell under a turtle’s body. In snapping turtles, plastrons are remarkably small compared to most turtles around the world. In addition, they seem disconnected. Still, looking at a snapper’s plastron can provide clues as to its sex.
Men are generally recognized with a stock tie that is slightly curved. Females usually have a plastron that is flatter than males.
While this detail is helpful, it’s not very practical for the average person to check as they would have to risk a serious bite to turn the turtle over.
Male vs Female Snapping Tortoise: Reproduction
One of the main differences between male and female turtles is their reproductive habits. Turtles practice iteroparity (repeated reproductive events) over the course of their lives and are sexually mature between 12-20 years.
Males contribute sperm to the life equation, but that’s about it. They do not care for or protect the eggs or fry in any way.
Females, on the other hand, play a much larger role. After mating with a male, a female can hold onto his sperm for several seasons and use it to create viable eggs whenever she sees fit. When ready to lay, a female turtle will travel overland to find sandy soil to burrow. Females lay a total of between 25 and 80 eggs per year.
Snapping turtle male vs female: overland travel
While both males and females can travel on land, males are usually less likely to be found outside of the water. The only reason males leave the safety of the water is if they hope to branch out and find more territory to inhabit.
Females are much more likely to be found outside the water. In fact, while looking for a place to lay eggs, female snappers are known to travel a considerable distance to find sand.