What To Do If You Find A Baby Snapping Turtle

Snapping turtles are fascinating creatures that play an important role in maintaining the balance of aquatic ecosystems. If you come across a baby snapping turtle, it’s essential to handle the situation with care and ensure the turtle’s well-being. In this article, we will guide you through the steps to take if you find a baby snapping turtle, including how to handle it, where to release it, and what to do if it appears injured or in distress.

1. Assess the Situation

Before taking any action, it’s crucial to assess the situation and determine if the baby snapping turtle needs assistance. Keep in mind that baby snapping turtles are often independent and capable of taking care of themselves. However, there are certain circumstances where intervention may be necessary:

  • If the turtle is in immediate danger, such as on a road or in a busy area
  • If the turtle appears injured or in distress
  • If the turtle is far from a suitable habitat, such as a body of water

2. Handle with Care

If you need to handle the baby snapping turtle, it’s important to do so with caution to avoid causing harm to yourself or the turtle. Follow these steps:

  1. Approach the turtle slowly and avoid sudden movements that may startle it.
  2. Wear gloves or use a towel to protect your hands from the turtle’s sharp beak and claws.
  3. Gently pick up the turtle by grasping it on both sides of its shell, avoiding the tail.
  4. Keep the turtle close to the ground to prevent it from falling and potentially injuring itself.

3. Find a Suitable Habitat

Once you have safely picked up the baby snapping turtle, the next step is to find a suitable habitat for its release. Snapping turtles are primarily aquatic creatures and require access to water for survival. Look for a nearby body of water, such as a pond, lake, or stream, where the turtle can thrive.

When releasing the turtle, place it gently on the ground near the water’s edge and allow it to make its way into the water on its own. Avoid throwing or dropping the turtle into the water, as this can cause injury or disorientation.

4. Observe from a Distance

After releasing the baby snapping turtle, it’s important to observe from a distance and avoid interfering with its natural behavior. Snapping turtles are solitary creatures and may become stressed or agitated if they feel threatened. Give the turtle space and time to acclimate to its new environment.

Remember, it is illegal to keep a snapping turtle as a pet without the proper permits and licenses. It’s best to let them thrive in their natural habitat.

5. What to Do If the Turtle Appears Injured or in Distress

If the baby snapping turtle appears injured or in distress, it may require professional help. In such cases, contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. They have the expertise and resources to provide appropriate care and treatment for injured turtles.

Do not attempt to treat the turtle’s injuries yourself, as improper handling or treatment can worsen its condition. It’s essential to seek professional assistance to ensure the turtle receives the best possible care.

6. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1: Are baby snapping turtles dangerous?

A1: While baby snapping turtles possess a sharp beak and claws, they are generally not dangerous if handled properly. It’s important to approach them with caution and avoid any sudden movements.

Q2: Can I keep a baby snapping turtle as a pet?

A2: It is illegal to keep a snapping turtle as a pet without the proper permits and licenses. Snapping turtles are best left in their natural habitat to ensure their well-being and the balance of the ecosystem.

Q3: How can I tell if a baby snapping turtle is injured?

A3: Signs of injury in a baby snapping turtle may include visible wounds, difficulty moving or swimming, abnormal behavior, or a lack of response to stimuli. If you suspect the turtle is injured, it’s best to contact a wildlife rehabilitation center for assistance.

Q4: What do baby snapping turtles eat?

A4: Baby snapping turtles are omnivorous and have a varied diet. They primarily feed on small aquatic invertebrates, such as insects, worms, and small crustaceans. As they grow, their diet expands to include fish, amphibians, and even plant matter.

Q5: How long does it take for a baby snapping turtle to reach maturity?

A5: Baby snapping turtles typically take 15-20 years to reach sexual maturity. During this time, they undergo significant growth and development.

Q6: Are baby snapping turtles protected by law?

A6: Snapping turtles, including baby snapping turtles, are protected by various laws and regulations in many regions. It is important to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations in your area to ensure compliance and the protection of these species.


Encountering a baby snapping turtle can be an exciting experience, but it’s crucial to handle the situation with care and prioritize the turtle’s well-being. Assess the situation and intervene only if necessary, handling the turtle with caution and releasing it in a suitable habitat. If the turtle appears injured or in distress, seek professional help from a wildlife rehabilitation center. By following these guidelines, you can contribute to the conservation of these remarkable creatures and their natural habitats.