Snapping Turtle Full Grown: How Long? Weight, Determine The Age

Keeping a snapping turtle as a pet is an exciting adventure, but how do you know when you’re missing something from its care? Your turtle can be obese, underfed, or even retarded without you even knowing. Hence, “Snapping Turtle Full Grown” article promises to expound on these issues and help you reach your goal of a better keeper.

Snapping turtles are just one species amongst other species of turtles that have a fast growth rate within their first 5 – 20 years. Within these years, they will grow from the size of a quarter as hatchlings to gigantic sizes of 50 – 100 pounds or even 200 pounds.

As will be discussed in this article, several factors do influence the growth rate of snapping turtles both in the wild and captivity, therefore, what size a snapping turtle measures will vary between snappers of different environments.

Let’s get into the article in detail.

snapping turtle full grown
It takes between 5 to 10 years for snapping turtles to get to sexual maturity. During these years, they grow rapidly.
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Cute Reptiles as Pets

How Long Does It Take For A Snapping Turtle To Get Fully Grown?

How long it takes for snapping turtles to get fully grown depends on the sex (gender). Male snappers attain maturity faster at a certain age while the age range varies with females. At age 5, male snappers will get fully grown. However, sexual maturity for females ranges between 4 to 7 years.

How Much Does A Full Grown Snapping Turtle Weigh And Measure?

Snapping turtles are of two types (species) and both species are large animals. Nonetheless, they do not measure and weigh the same. Also, within each species, males and females do not weigh the same. 

As the alligator snapping turtles are much larger in size than the common snapping turtles, the same are male snappers larger than the females. 

From a research done by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on wild alligator snapping turtles, full-grown alligator snappers were found to measure over 1ft. in shell length (carapace) and weigh over 250 pounds. 

a 40 years old snapping turtle weighs 64 pounds
Full grown common snapping turtles of about 40 years and above can weigh as heavy as 64 pounds

On the flip side, the carapace of adult common snappers measure between 8 – 14 inches and weigh between 50 – 60 pounds and it takes about 7 – 10 Years for these animals to attain these sizes.

On average, the common snapping turtles measure between 8 – 14 inches in shell length and weigh between 10 – 35 pounds. Whereas, on average, alligator snappers measure between 14 – 32 inches and weigh between 155 -175 pounds.

While these measurements are not the norm or standard size a snapping turtle should get, it is however ideal that your pets weigh and measure within these ranges. Several factors such as diet, good habitat, and other environmental conditions can enhance or affect the growth rate and size of your pet. 

Therefore, if your 8 years old pet common snapper weighs 18 pounds and is healthy, that is a good weight for its age. You should only be concerned if your adult snapper weighs below average.

A full grown alligator snapping turtle
A full grown alligator snapping turtle

Snapping Turtle Full Grown: How To Determine The Age Of Snapping Turtles

Telling the exact age of a turtle isn’t always easy, especially if you don’t know when it was hatched. That notwithstanding, some methods have been proven useful in providing clues to the age of a snapping turtle or any other turtle species you wish to determine the age. 

However, bear in mind that these methods are not as foolproof as knowing the actual date the turtle was hatched, they are only going to provide a mare calculated guess. The methods you can use to determine the age of your snapping turtles include:

Counting The Annuli Rings (Growth Rings)

The annuli rings of turtles and tortoises are otherwise called growth rings because it is believed that each ring on each scute of their carapace represents a calendar year. 

This belief is not entirely true since the annuli rings on the carapace of snapping turtles do also tell more about times of food abundance and rapid growth rate rather than the calendar years it has lived. 

That notwithstanding, counting your turtle’s annuli rings can provide a calculated estimate of the snapper’s age.

Measuring The Size Of Carapace

telling the age of a snapper by measuring its shell
You can guess the age of your snapping turtle by measuring the length of its carapace. The longer the carapace, the older the turtle.

Another way of determining the age of a wild snapping turtle is by measuring the length of its carapace. We all know that plants and animals increase in size as they grow or age and at a certain age (once maturity is fully attained) the growth rate will reduce till it eventually stops. 

Therefore, it’s easy to make a solid estimate of your snapper’s age by measuring the length of the carapace. 

Hatchling snapping turtles always measure about a quarter once they come out of the eggshell. Within a few years of 10 – 19 where sexual maturity is attained, these hatchlings will grow so big with an average carapace length of 11 inches for females and 13.3 inches for males. 

As accurate as this method may sound, the growth rate of a snapping turtle can be influenced and will vary a great deal depending on the availability of food the snapper was able to get, its location, and other environmental conditions. 

Whatever the case is, snapping turtles are believed to grow continually throughout their lives but at a very slow rate as they age.

The Degree Of Wear And Tear Of The Snapping Turtle’s Shell

Looking at the degree of wear and tear of the snapping turtle’s shell, you can tell how long it has lived. However, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds for an inexperienced hobbyist as you may still not be able to get an accurate guess. 

It is at this point advisable that you visit a veterinarian who specializes in turtles with your pet so that he can examine the turtle’s shell and skin for signs of age. These kinds of vets are trained on this.

Telling the age of a wild snapping turtle by looking at the degree of wear and tear on the skin and shell
Telling the age of a wild snapping turtle by looking at the degree of wear and tear on the skin and shell

FAQs

How Long Does It Take For A Snapping Turtle To Grow?

Depending on the sex, it takes between 5 – 7 years for snapping turtles to get fully grown. Males always reach sexual maturity faster than females, and male snappers are also larger in size than females.

How Big Is A 50 Years Old Snapping Turtle?

A 50-year old snapping turtle is likely to weigh nothing less than 64 pounds.

According to a documentary by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in 2014, several research were carried out on the three gigantic snapping turtles found in a river North of Gainesville.

From the research, it was estimated that one of the male snapping turtles that weighed 100 pounds had lived for at least 80 years while the 46-pound female was estimated to have lived for at least 40 years.

How Long Does A Snapping Turtle Live?

Snapping turtles have a long lifespan of 30 – 40 years both in the wild and captivity and with an average lifespan of 30 years. In the wild, hatchling snapping turtles hardly survived to become sexually reproductive adults without being preyed on. 

This is why the female snappers lay many eggs in a single birth to increase their chances of survival. The idea is that, out of 20 eggs, if 10 died in the process of incubation and as hatchlings, the other 10 will survive till they become sexually reproductive adults.

Wrapping Up

Snapping turtles like any other species of sea turtles or land tortoises have a long lifespan only if they are able to survive the first few years of their hatchling life. 

Like with other species of animals, it is difficult to tell or even accurately determine their age unless you know the actual date they were hatched. 

Although this article has identified ways you can make a solid guess of your snapper’s age, these methods cannot be as accurate as knowing the real hatch date.