Alligator Snapping Turtle vs Common Snapping Turtle


– I’m Coyote
Peterson, and today, we’re gonna show
you the difference between the common
snapping turtle, and the alligator
snapping turtle. (drums) – [Voiceover] I
often times question whether or not
there is a predator in the wetland
ecosystem that is more perfectly designed than
the snapping turtle. Try to imagine yourself as a
fish out for a morning swim. And around each and
every lily pad you turn, there may be a set
of bone crushing jaws waiting to meet you. Snapping turtles
rule their food chain and the wetlands of
America are their kingdom. There are two very distinct
types of snapping turtles. They have multiple species
within their respective genera. To keep it simple, we
will talk generically about the common
snapping turtle, which grows to an average
weight of 30 pounds and is native to
nearly the entire eastern half of
the United States, parts of Mexico and
Central America. Then there’s the larger
alligator snapping turtle, which averages
close to 70 pounds. A threatened species, whose
range has been reduced to the southeastern
United States. These reptiles
are truly ancient. And today we are lucky enough to have both of these
species on hand, so we can give you
an up close look at their distinct differences. – This is Adam Remedies, the
true turtle man of Louisiana. And what we have
for you guys here, are our two distinct dragons. Now as you guys
know, I’m from Ohio. I’m used to catching
this guy right here, the common snapping turtle Or as I refer to
it, the mud dragon. Now what Adam’s used to working
with is this guy right here. What they’re referred
to as Loggerheads, the alligator snapping turtle. So, you said this is
about the average size of the common snapping turtles that you guys get
down here right? – [Adam] Yeah that’s
about average size. – [Coyote] Now for me, this is a small common snapping turtle. Now I know a lot
of you have seen our other videos on snapping
turtles and you’ve thought, “Gosh these alligator
snapping turtles seem really, really calm.” Now as soon as you get an
alligator snapping turtle out of the water, handle it
gently, put it on your knee, they really do calm down. Is that what you
experienced Adam? Almost all of them, after
they’ve been captured, figure okay, the
more I struggle, the more energy
I’m going to waste. Now the common snapping turtle is a much more
aggressive species than the alligator
snapping turtle. Let me see if I can
get him to strike here. Phew, yeah you see how fast
that head shoots out and mouth? Now the alligator
snapping turtle, I’m gonna keep you
away from my nose, doesn’t ever really strike
his head out, see that? He’ll open his mouth
up wider, and say, “Go ahead get your hand close
to those scissor like jaws.” But he’s not, he’s not
even gonna actually strike. See that? I can get my hand all the
way in front of his face. Now I don’t recommend you
ever try that at home, with either of these
turtle species, but the point I’m
trying to prove is that the common snapping
turtle is much more aggressive than the
alligator snapping turtle. Now the one major difference
between all snapping turtles that makes them separate
from other turtle species is that they cannot tuck their
extremities into their shell. You see how small the
plastron is on both the common and the alligator
snapping turtle. You have all of
this exposed muscle, and that’s why they’ve developed these incredible
defensive techniques. And you see both turtles have
their mouths open right now. Both of them ready to bite if
we get our fingers too close. But look at the bite spread on that alligator snapping
turtle as compared to the common snapping turtle. Huge difference there. Now alligator
snapping turtles hunt by laying on the bottom of
slow moving creeks and rivers with that little
worm like appendage. You see that right there? The base of his mouth
looks just like a worm. Now that’s how
these turtles hunt, because they’re
ambush predators. Common snapping turtles
are nomadic predators, which means that
they’re gonna move about in a body of water
looking for their prey, actually hunting it down
before they catch it, kill it, and consume it. Now the carapace is
the top of the shell, and you can see that the
common snapping turtle has a much smoother
appearance as compared to the spiky appearance of the
alligator snapping turtle. Common snapping
turtles typically inhabit ponds like
you see behind us, and alligator snapping
turtles are usually found in slow moving
creeks and rivers. Now the common snapping
turtles have these large, pointy, osteoderms
on their tails. Now an osteoderm is just a
piece of bone covered in scale and you see it really looks like the spikes on the
tail of a dragon. You see the osteoderms on
the alligator snapping turtle are a lot smaller. And as these turtles grow
and their tails get bigger, the osteoderms
actually get smaller, which is the opposite with
common snapping turtles. As the common snapping
turtle continues to grow, it’s tail gets fatter
and the osteoderms become more pronounced. Now if you look at the nose
of the common snapping turtle, it’s short and blunt. The nose of the alligator
snapping turtle is much longer. And these turtles,
all they need to do is stick their heads
up out of the water, body stays completely submerged, they can use those little eyes
as periscopes looking around, get a breath of air
and then disappear back down into the murky abyss. Wow this was pretty cool, I
hope you guys enjoyed this. Getting the chance to see
a common snapping turtle compared to an alligator
snapping turtle. Adam, thanks for getting us
up close with these turtles. We’re gonna put them
back into the wild, and then we’re gonna go look
for some monsters aren’t we? – [Adam] Yeah. – [Coyote] Alright,
tonight we’re headin’ out into the creeks to
look for dragons. Snapping turtles have
been on the planet since the late
cretaceous period. Dating back nearly 70 million
years in the fossil record. Despite whether or
not you think they are the perfect aquatic predator, I think that we can all agree
that these enormous turtles are about as
prehistoric as it gets. (creepy music)

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