Do Snapping Turtles Live in the Connecticut River?

The Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

Close up of head

Recently hatched baby turtle

Snapping turtles are the largest and one of the most common species of turtles found in Massachusetts. Snapping turtles can be distinguished from all other Massachusetts turtles by their large size and long tail. Adult snapping turtles often weigh over 20 pounds and the state record is over 75 pounds. Nearly everyone has seen a snapping turtle at some point. Usually one sees the females when they exit the water to lay eggs on land. When approached on land, these animals are often aggressive. (I guess if I were only 5 inches tall and weighed 40 lbs, I'd be pretty grouchy also!) When approached in water they most frequently try to escape.

The biology of snapping turtles is not well understood. The information available is based on lake and pond populations. I am interested in the biology of snapping turtle populations in the Connecticut River and its major tributaries. I would like reports of animals seen in the mainstem of the river and of females nesting on islands or sandbars along the river proper. I am also interested in hibernating behavior of these animals. If anyone has been diving in the river in winter, I would be interested in knowing the location of any snapping turtle hibernating sites. For inquiries contact Alan Richmond, Biology Department, Box 5810, Morrill Science Center, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003-5810