Chelydra serpentina 

Scope:Global
Status_ne_offStatus_dd_offStatus_lc_onStatus_nt_offStatus_vu_offStatus_en_offStatus_cr_offStatus_ew_offStatus_ex_off

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Testudines Chelydridae

Scientific Name: Chelydra serpentina
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Name(s):
English Snapping Turtle, North American Snapping Turtle, Common Snapping Turtle
Synonym(s):
Chelydra osceola Stejneger, 1918
Testudo serpentina Linnaeus, 1758
Taxonomic Notes: Two subspecies (Chelydra serpentina serpentina (Linnaeus, 1758) and C. s. osceola Stejneger, 1918) were recognized until osceola was synonymized with serpentina by Shaffer et al. (2008), based on lack of significant genetic differentiation. Phillips et al. (1996) removed the former subspecies rossignoni and acutirostris by elevating these to species level, based on genetic differentiation.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2010-08-02
Assessor(s): van Dijk, P.P.
Reviewer(s): Horne, B.D., Mittermeier, R.A., Philippen, H.-D., Quinn, H.R., Rhodin, A.G.J., Shaffer, H.B. & Vogt, R.C
Justification:
While the Snapping Turtle is widely exploited and impacted by a wide variety of other factors, the species is adaptable and widespread, and has a relatively high reproductive potential. Local declines have been documented, but overall the species does not approach a 30 percent range-wide decline over three generations (likely around 50 years), nor is it likely to approach this level in the near future. As such, the species is assessed as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2013 Least Concern (LC)
2010 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Chelydra serpentina ranges throughout North America east of the Rocky Mountains, occurring northwards as far as the Great Lakes region and Nova Scotia, and southwards as far as Florida and the Nueces river (Texas) (Iverson 1992, Ernst and Lovich 2009). Feral turtles have been recorded from California (US), Japan, the Netherlands, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
Countries occurrence:
Native:
Canada (Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Québec, Saskatchewan); United States (Alabama, Arizona - Introduced, Arkansas, California - Introduced, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada - Introduced, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon - Introduced, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming)
Introduced:
China; Japan; Taiwan, Province of China
Upper elevation limit (metres):2000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Chelydra serpentina is widely distributed across a variety of habitats. It is never the numerically dominant turtle species, but it usually represents about 2–12% of the total number of turtles in trapping studies. Given its large body size, at its reported densities of 1.2–49 animals or 19–166 kg per hectare of suitable habitat, its biomass and presumably its ecological significance are substantial.

In Michigan, Snapping Turtles were intensively trapped for 2–3 years in the 1980s, greatly reducing populations. By 2009 populations were approaching pre-impact levels, indicating a 25–30 year recovery period after depletion (J. Harding pers comm. Aug 2009).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Chelydra serpentina inhabits almost any type of water body, from rivers, lakes and reservoirs to marshes, temporary ponds, hill streams and tidal creeks. It ranges from tidally-influenced lowlands to 2,000 m altitude.

Snapping Turtles feed on a wide variety of animal and plant matter, and undergo extensive scavenging activities. At reported densities of 1.2–49 animals or 19–166 kg per hectare of suitable habitat, its biomass and presumably its ecological significance are substantial.

Males reach 49.4 cm carapace length (CL), females 36.6 cm CL. Maturity is reached at at 4–6 yrs and 18–19 cm CL in males, and at about 10–12 (range 9–18) years / 20–22 (19–29) cm CL in females. Longevity 25–30 years (max 40 yrs). They usually produce a single clutch of 25–45 eggs (number of eggs increases with latitude) (Ernst and Lovich 2009). Generation time apparently has not been calculated. Incubation commonly takes 75–95 days. Hatchlings measure about 29 mm on average (range 16–38 mm).

[Information taken from reviews by Aresco et al. 2006, Steyermark et al. 2008, Ernst and Lovich 2009].
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Chelydra serpentina is widely collected for local, subsistence collection as well as commercial trade for local, national and international consumption. Farming efforts for the species are indicated but details are not available. Juveniles are traded as pets in moderate numbers.

Collection of Snapping Turtles from the wild, and captive production in turtle farms, for export to East Asia increased substantially in recent years, from about 10,000 animals declared as exported from the USA in 1999, to over 300,000 annually in recent years.

LEMIS database - total recorded export numbers:

1999:  10,053
2000:  18,486
2001:  38,911
2002:  63,644
2003:  129,683
2004:  141,544
2005:  316,500
2006:  377,408
2007:  316,093
2008:  558,491

Available data do not allow differentiation of farmed vs. wild-collected trade volumes.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Chelydra serpentina is widely exploited, in some areas at the northern limits of occurrence to the degree that populations have declined significantly. As a result, Canada and many states in the U.S. have brought the species under various degrees of regulation or legislation to manage exploitation and trade, with a regulated or unrestricted commercial offtake permitted in about half the states in which the species occurs. Collection of Snapping Turtles from the wild, and captive production in turtle farms, for export to East Asia increased substantially in recent years, from about 10,000 animals declared as exported from the USA in 1999 to over 300,000 annually in recent years (LEMIS database - total recorded export numbers: 1999 – 10,053; 2000 – 18,486; 2001 – 38,911; 2002 – 63,644; 2003 – 129,683; 2004 – 141,544; 2005 – 316,500; 2006 – 377,408; 2007 – 316,093; 2008 – 558,491; available data do not allow differentiation of farmed vs. wild-collected trade volumes).

While habitat loss and degradation likely affect individuals and populations, Snapping Turtles are adaptable and mobile and are unlikely to be threatened by habitat change processes.

The impact of 'subsidized' predators (i.e., unnaturally large populations of predators subsidized by easily available resources near human settlements) is generally unquantified but may be significant.

The impact of pollution, particularly of pesticides, industrial chemicals, and heavy metals, on Snapping Turtles appears to be sub-lethal at worst, to the point that snappers are a recognized biomonitoring species to monitor accumulation of pollutants in aquatic ecosystems.

Road-kill and other casual human-induced mortality occurs, but it is not clear whether this represents an overall threat to the species in combination with other impacts.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Chelydra serpentina is subject to a variety of state legislation, regulations and management efforts in Canada and the United States.

Capture of the species from the wild is prohibited in Michigan and a number of other states, capture is permitted under regulation (size and/or bag limits, closed seasons, area restrictions, gear restrictions, restrictions on commercial use, etc.) in Alabama, Maryland, New York, Texas and several other states, and capture is unregulated in a few state. 

Throughout the United States, trade in the species is restricted to animals over four inches CL, reducing the casual pet trade and making turtles under four inches CL available only for educational purposes

The Snapping Turtle occurs in a substantial number of protected areas, both public and private.

Classifications [top]

5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.2. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent/Irregular Rivers/Streams/Creeks
  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.3. Wetlands (inland) - Shrub Dominated Wetlands
  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.4. Wetlands (inland) - Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.5. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.6. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.7. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.8. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.9. Wetlands (inland) - Freshwater Springs and Oases
  
13. Marine Coastal/Supratidal -> 13.4. Marine Coastal/Supratidal - Coastal Brackish/Saline Lagoons/Marine Lakes
  
13. Marine Coastal/Supratidal -> 13.5. Marine Coastal/Supratidal - Coastal Freshwater Lakes
  
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.1. Artificial/Aquatic - Water Storage Areas (over 8ha)
  
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.2. Artificial/Aquatic - Ponds (below 8ha)
  
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.6. Artificial/Aquatic - Wastewater Treatment Areas
  
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.9. Artificial/Aquatic - Canals and Drainage Channels, Ditches
  
2. Land/water management -> 2.2. Invasive/problematic species control
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.2. Trade management
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.3. Sub-national level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.3. Sub-national level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:Yes
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.2. Commercial & industrial areas
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.1. Intentional use: (subsistence/small scale)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.2. Intentional use: (large scale)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.3. Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.2. Problematic native species
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

9. Pollution -> 9.1. Domestic & urban waste water -> 9.1.3. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

9. Pollution -> 9.2. Industrial & military effluents -> 9.2.3. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

9. Pollution -> 9.3. Agricultural & forestry effluents -> 9.3.4. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
2. Conservation Planning -> 2.3. Harvest & Trade Management Plan
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.2. Harvest level trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.3. Trade trends

♦  Food - human
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Establishing ex-situ production *

Bibliography [top]

Aresco, M.J., Ewert, M.A., Gunzburger, M.S., Heinrich, G.L. and Meylan, P.A. 2006. Chelydra serpentina - Snapping Turtle. In: Meylan, P.A. (ed.), Biology and Conservation of Florida Turtles, pp. 44-57. Chelonian Research Foundation, Lunenburg, MA.

Baillie, J. and Groombridge, B. (comps and eds). 1996. 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Ernst, C.H. and Lovich, J.E. 2009. Turtles of the United States and Canada. Second edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

IUCN. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.1). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 16 June 2011).

IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2012.2). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 17 October 2012).

Iverson, J.B. 1992. A Revised Checklist with Distribution Maps of the Turtles of the World. Richmond, Indiana. (Privately published).

Phillips, C.A., Dimmick, W.W. and Carr, J.L. 1996. Conservation genetics of the common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina). Conservation Biology 10(2): 397-405.

Shaffer, H.B., Starkey, D.E. and Fujita, M.K. 2008. Molecular insights into the systematics of snapping turtles (Chelydridae). In: Steyermark, Finkler & Brooks (ed.), Biology of the Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina), pp. 44-49. Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore.

Steyermark, A.C., Finkler, M.C. and Brooks, R.J. (eds). 2008. Biology of the Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina). Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore.


Citation: van Dijk, P.P. 2012. Chelydra serpentina. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T163424A18547887. . Downloaded on 28 May 2016.
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