Baby Snapping Turtle Care Guide – Diet & Tank

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The Baby Snapping Turtle makes for a great aqua terrarium pet, but there is a lot you’ll need to know about caring for it. 

These turtles are not particularly challenging to care for, and they are excellent long term companions.

Baby Snapping Turtle Appearance

Baby Snapping Turtles can grow up to 20 inches long with a maximum weight of just over 70 pounds. These turtles are typically about 15 inches and not more than 40 pounds. The shell on the underside of this turtle is called the plastron. It is quite narrow and shaped like a cross.

The turtle’s top shell or carapace has a number of blunt spikes all over. It also has webbed feet and sharp claws that are ideal for digging and gripping. These turtles are also known for their pointed beak, which resembles that of the Alligator Snapping Turtle.

All of the baby snapping turtle’s exposed body parts are a dirty brown color that almost appears yellow in certain areas. They have a unique pattern that is consistent all across their sides and carapace.

The average lifespan for a baby snapping turtle is around 40 years. This makes getting one a big commitment, so you need to keep that in mind.

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While baby snapping turtles might look very adorable, they can be highly aggressive creatures. This aggression can be observed when two males fight over a mate or something else. This is usually a fight to the death.

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These turtles spend a majority of their time in the water. They are extremely skilled swimmers, so this is a natural place for them. Those who keep these turtles will notice that they do a lot of swimming on a daily basis. You’ll also see your turtle spend some time on land though.

While baby snapping turtles do hibernate in the wild, you probably won’t see them do this in a tank. It is important that you are very careful when handling this snapping turtle due to its aggressive nature. 

A single bite from one of these creatures can take off a chunk of your finger. This is why it is crucial that you know how to hold it. When you lift the turtle up, make sure that you grab it firmly on either side with one hand. Your hand should be far enough away from the head to where it cannot reach around and bite it.

Natural Habitat

A vast majority of baby snapping turtles are located in southeastern Canada. There are also some of these turtles throughout Florida, Nova Scotia, and parts of the Rocky Mountains. They prefer to spend most of their time in swamps and rivers that have a thick layer of silt at the bottom.

Baby Snapping Turtle Care Guied

1. Tank Setup

Baby snapping turtle hatchlings can be kept in a 10-gallon tank, but they will quickly need a larger one. You could end up having to get a 150-gallon tank, depending on how big your turtle gets.

Make sure that you put a solid filter in the tank for ideal aeration. This is particularly important once the turtle has fully matured. You also need to put a UV lamp as well as a standard luminescent lamp in the tank.

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The substrate of the tank should be comprised of gravel and sand with a decent thickness. This is essential to keeping your turtle happy.

2. Water Conditions

It is best to keep the water inside the aquarium between 76 and 78 degrees. While these turtles can handle very cold temperatures, it is a good idea to keep it warm. This will encourage healthy development as your turtle grows.

The water should also have a pH of 6.8 to 7.2. You don’t want the water in the tank to be too hard or soft, but right in the middle. There needs to be enough water for them to actually swim, but not so shallow that they can poke their head out to breathe.

Baby Snapping Turtle sits on a rock near water

3. Baby Snapping Turtle Tank Mates

It can be rather difficult to find suitable tank mates for baby snapping turtles due to their extreme aggression. If you are going to put any fish in the tank, make sure they are fast swimmers. Any slow fish are going to quickly be eaten by the turtle.

4. Baby Snapping Turtle Food

The size and age of your baby snapping turtle are crucial factors to consider when it comes to their diet. These turtles enjoy shrimp, bloodworms, and various fruits. Just make sure that you cut the fruit into small pieces before giving it to them.

Flakes and granules are both acceptable food for these turtles. One of the best things about granulated foods is that they are packed with nutrients that will keep your turtle healthy. Putting plants in their tank will also provide them with sustenance.

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Common Health Problems

There are a few common signs of illness with snapping turtles that you should be aware of. These signs include lethargic behavior, lack of appetite, and even vomiting. If you notice any of these things, there is probably something wrong with them.


  • Baby snapping turtles can grow up to 20 inches long and weigh upwards of 70 pounds.
  • Most of these turtles grow to 15 inches with a weight that does not exceed 40 pounds.
  • These turtles require a very large tank of over 100 gallons by the time they have reached full maturity.
  • Make sure that the water in your turtle’s tank is deep enough for it to swim, but not too shallow.
  • The water should be kept at a temperature of 76 to 78 degrees at all times.
  • You’ll need to put a powerful filter in your turtle’s tank to keep it clean.
  • Both a UV light and normal luminescent light will be required for this sort of tank setup.
  • If you put any fish in with your turtle, you’ll need to make sure they are fast swimmers.
  • Granules and flakes can make up a majority of your turtle’s diet.
  • You can give them the occasional piece of fruit, but make sure it is diced up beforehand.
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