Turtle defeat snake: Top reasons why snakes don’t mess with turtles.
This Is Why Snakes Don’t Mess with Turtles
There are over 350 turtle species inhabiting all continents of the world, well, except for Antarctica.
As you can guess, such a wide distribution makes the turtle order extremely diverse.
Their size can range anywhere from 3.5 oz (100 g) and 4 inches (10 cm), the speckled dwarf tortoise found in South Africa, can reach up to 5.5 feet (1.7 m) and 2,200 pounds (1000 kg), and the leatherback sea turtle found in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Some are herbivorous, others are carnivorous, but they all share the unique feature of a protective shell surrounding their body.
However, it’s not always hard, and there are soft-shell turtles inhabiting freshwaters.
This is Wild and Domestic, and today we’re going to talk about some of the strongest turtle species and see why snakes don’t mess with them.
This family of turtles includes 2 living species, the alligator snapping turtle and the common snapping turtle, both living in the United States.
Let’s start with the former, which can only be found in water bodies flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, and never in isolated ponds.
It grows up to 32 inches (81 cm) in length and weighs up to 176 pounds (80 kg).
It’s one of the largest extant turtle species, and one unverified specimen had weighed over 400 pounds (181 kg)!
It’s carnivorous and feeds on basically anything on sight, including amphibians, fish, and mollusks.
It even feeds on small mammals like squirrels, raccoons, and opossums, that come too close to water.
Naturally, it has one of the most powerful bites, measuring at about 180 newtons, which is comparable to that of a dog.
So while not life-threatening, you definitely don’t want to risk getting bitten.
There’s a recorded case of a 15-year-old boy losing his entire index finger after he lifted such a turtle from the water!
Despite its name, alligator snapping turtles don’t snap alligators, as cool as it would be.
Their name comes from the fact that their carapace has ridges reminiscent of alligator skin.
Probably the most fascinating fact about this species is their lifespan.
Most individuals live anywhere from 80 to 120 years, but it’s speculated that some can reach 200 years of age!
common snapping turtle
Let’s move on to their close relative common snapping turtle, which inhabits most water bodies found in the east and north parts of the U.S.
Unlike their relatives, this species is omnivorous, having a diet consisting of both plants and animals.
Despite being way smaller, measuring at just 20 inches (50 cm) in length and 35 lbs (16 kg) in weight, it has a stronger bite, measuring at 210 newtons.
However, one study measuring turtle bite force recorded a common snapping turtle with a bite force of 434 newtons!
That’s comparable to a wolf’s, and keep in mind that both species of snapping turtles have beak-shaped jaws, which make their bites much more dangerous.
Common snapping turtles are more aggressive than alligators turtle
Common snapping turtles are also more aggressive than their alligator counterparts, so you should definitely keep an eye out when hitchhiking through areas with shallow ponds.
Not only can it bite your finger off, but wounds from such bites are also risk-prone to getting infected.
As many as 90% of turtles have salmonella, and with this species being scavengers, who knows what kind of nasty bacteria it could carry.
Strong bite force and aggressive tendencies make common snapping turtles one of the apex predators of their habitat.
Additionally, females lay anywhere from 25 to 80 eggs per season, and just like in all turtle species, the gender of the offspring is determined by the temperature of the environment. The higher the temperature, the more males hatch.
Asiatic Softshell Turtle
Let’s go to Asia, which is home to the Asiatic softshell turtle, another species with a formidable bite.
They can be found anywhere from Brunei to India, covering most of Southeast Asia.
This species are living in freshwater bodies in tropical climates, and are most commonly found in swamps and marshes.
It’s one of the species that belong to the softshell turtle family, which carapace lacks hard scales and is almost leathery.
They grow up to 31.5 inches (80 cm) in length, and 55 pounds (25 kg) in weight, although there’s an unverified report of an individual weighing 230 pounds (105 kg).
It’s omnivorous, eating a varied diet consisting of amphibians, crabs, berries, nuts, and fish. As they rarely leave the water, they have evolved gill-like lining on their necks.
It allows them to stay underwater for hours on end, and sneak up on unsuspecting prey.
Asiatic softshell turtles go through a unique color-changing
Asiatic softshell turtles go through a unique color-changing process throughout their lifetimes. For example, the upper part of the shell loses color with age.
While young turtles can boast of intense brown or black shells with yellow spots, older turtles become paler as they get older.
Additionally, their nape turns white or grey, and it helps scientists to estimate the age of a turtle.
What makes this species special is that they bury themselves in the mud, camouflaging against potential predators.
Additionally, they evolved ways to chemically communicate with other turtles of their species.
Sadly, they are currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List because it’s a common ingredient in some Asian cuisines.
All that being said, how hard can they bite?
The average bite force of these turtles is about 210 newtons, comparable to that of common snapping turtles.
However, one turtle had crushed the test and reached over 450 newtons!
Now that you know about some of the most powerful turtle species on Earth, let’s see what kind of relationship they have with snakes.
Why Snakes Don’t Mess With Turtles
Most snakes either use venom or constriction to finish off their prey before consuming it.
That’s because nearly all snake species don’t have teeth, so the only way they can eat their prey is by swallowing it whole.
As a result, turtles are one of the most difficult animals for snakes to feast on.
Turtle shells have sharp edges
Not only are most turtle species too big for snakes to swallow, but their shells also have sharp edges that can hurt the snake’s insides.
Moreover, turtles can retract their necks into their shell, making it close to impossible for snakes to constrict them.
Finally, turtle shells are made of keratin, which is incredibly difficult for most snakes to digest.
However, many snake species eat turtle eggs, which are abundant and rarely protected, because most turtle species bury them underground.
Snakes can find these hidden nests thanks to what is called Jacobson’s organ.
It’s situated at the roof of their mouths, and snakes use it to smell by grabbing air particles from the air while flicking their tongues.
few snake species are capable of eating turtles.
That being said, there are a few snake species capable of eating turtles.
The eastern kingsnake
One of them is the eastern kingsnake, which inhabits the southeastern U.S and often feeds on common snapping turtles.
These snakes can grow up to 82-inches (208 cm) in length and weigh up to 10 ounces (285 grams).
The name kingsnake comes from the fact that they are immune to most snake venoms, which allows them to prey on snakes.
The Green Anaconda
Another snake species that sometimes eat turtles is the green anaconda.
It’s one of the largest snakes in the world and can reach lengths of 17-feet (5.2 m), and weights of over 150 pounds (70 kg).
They don’t have venom but are expert constrictors.
Unlike most other snake species, green anacondas have 4 rows of teeth that help hold down their prey while it’s being choked to death.
Additionally, they can open their mouths at a 150-degree angle!
All of these factors make it easy to understand how anacondas are one of the few snake species that feed on turtles.
The Cottonmouth snake
The last snake species that we should mention is commonly called cottonmouth.
It can reach 35 inches (90 cm) in length, and 20 ounces (565 grams) in weight, and is one of the few semiaquatic viper species.
It primarily inhabits swamps and marshes of the southeastern US, which is also home to our mentioned snapping turtles.
I think you can guess where it’s going, but… Snapping turtles are actually known to prey on cottonmouths, not vice-versa!
However, these snakes prey on smaller turtles, like various species of musk and box turtles.
Now you know what turtles have the most powerful bites, and which snake species are capable of preying on turtles.
Thanks for reading, don’t forget to leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comment section down below.
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