Are Snapping Turtles Dangerous

Are Snapping Turtles Dangerous? Is It Safe To Swim In A Pond With Them?

It’s not unusual for swimmers to encounter snapping turtles while swimming in the freshwater areas of the East Coast of North America. The large skull, tail, shell, and pokey beak make this turtle look aggressive. But they might not be aggressive just because they look aggressive.

But you must need to know, “are snapping turtles dangerous? Is it safe to swim in a pond with them?”. No, snapping turtles are not dangerous until they feel scared, provoked, or vulnerable. They might be aggressive on land but not in water. Thus, you can swim safely with them as they won’t attack you.

Throughout this article, we will discuss how dangerous snapping turtles are and how to remain safe from them. So, without further ado, keep reading.

Are Snapping Turtles Dangerous To Humans And Dogs?


No. They are not dangerous though people generally consider snapping turtles as dangerous turtles due to their outlook. Indeed their view makes them look aggressive when they are not. They won’t show aggressive behavior until they feel unsafe or threatened by your activity.

If you don’t scare or corner the reptile on land, it won’t pose any risk to you. But the children and babies may not be aware of this safe movement toward the turtles. Therefore, they may mess with or harm the turtle after seeing them. Eventually,  when the turtles get hurt, they will harm back the babies.

Are Snapping Turtles Dangerous To Humans And Dogs

You may also encounter snapping turtles on land during the end of spring or the start of summer. During this period, your dog might get to see them on the ground and get curious. They may bark loudly after seeing the turtles, which may startle the turtles. 

Besides, as dogs are fast enough to move toward the turtles, the reptile will get scared and perplexed. As a result, they will end up biting them.

Do Snapping Turtles Bite While In Water? 

No, snapping turtles do not bite in the water. Whenever they feel any presence of humans in the water, they will escape from the place as soon as possible. After that, they will hide in their safe areas, mainly located in shallow water.

They are comfortable in the surrounding water as they are among the main predators there. Mainly,  they are omnivores and feed on both small plants and animals. Generally, they will stay in one place for the prey and prey on it when they come closer. 

Do Snapping Turtles Bite While In Water

But almost 90% of their diet consists of vegetables and small plants. Hence, there is less chance of them attacking or biting you in water for food purposes. They will only attack or bite you when you hurt or scare them intentionally or unintentionally.

Why Are Snapping Turtles So Aggressive On Land?

This reptile is mainly aggressive on land because they are not confident on land. Their features make them scary turtles to people. Typically, they have longer tails and more giant shells than any other usual turtle. 

Why Are Snapping Turtles So Aggressive On Land

Though there is a lack of snapping turtles teeth, they have a pointy beak through which they can bite you severely. Then, why do they feel vulnerable on land? The answers are:

  • Their skull is larger than usual turtles, but it’s not spacious enough according to their body. Thus, they can’t hide inside their head to escape from danger 
  • On land, they can’t move that fast. As a result, they are unable to  dash to a safe place when they feel any threat 
  • While searching for a safe nesting place, they may encounter humans and different animals more than in water. Due to the increased amount of interaction, they feel more uncomfortable 
  • In water, they are predators and they prey on other small animals. Whereas, outside of the water, they have many predators, which makes them feel threatened more 

As they are more vulnerable on the land, they show their aggressive attitude more on the land. They will be ready to attack anyone or anything with a slight feeling of danger.

See also  How To Get A Turtle To Come Out Of Hiding?

How To Swim Safely In Pond With Snapping Turtles?

Though you may consider them scary turtles, you don’t have to be worried about their presence on the pond. That is because they are less prone to attack you without any reason. Thus, you can swim safely around with this type of turtle. But you must have to follow these below rules:

How To Swim Safely In Pond With Snapping Turtles
  • If you encounter any snapping turtles while swimming, casually make a safe distance from them. Don’t touch their shell or try to interact with them
  • Don’t make loud noises after noticing any of these reptiles to scare them away. Because they will attack you instead of moving away
  • We suggest you not swim in deep or shallow water. Because it results in trespassing on their safe hiding place
  • Never try to corner the snapping turtles. Rather, give them enough space to escape. If they can’t escape from the scene, there is a high risk that it will attack you 

Should I Remove A Snapping Turtle From My Pond?

Generally, there is no need to remove the turtle from your pond because they won’t harm you as long as you won’t disturb them. Besides, they are pretty beneficial for the ecosystem in the pond. Mainly, this type of turtle controls the bacteria and dead matter level in the pond. 

Thus, by removing the turtles from your pond, you will reduce the reduction of bacteria and dead matter. As a result, there will be a significant risk of getting itchy whenever you swim in that pond. But if you can’t ensure that you won’t disturb those turtles, you should remove the turtle from your ponds.

Should I Remove A Snapping Turtle From My Pond

However, bear in mind that they don’t have any interest in encountering you. They make a safe distance whenever they feel any presence of humans on the pond. But they seem like quite scary turtles whenever you trespass on their safe place or mess with them.

Is It Safe To Handle A Snapping Turtle?

It could be safe or unsafe depending on how you handle the Snapping turtle. If you don’t follow the proper handling of the reptile, you may get a bite from it. Keep the following points in your mind while you are handling this genre of reptile:

Is It Safe To Handle A Snapping Turtle
  • Approach the reptile slowly, not wanting to startle them. If they get startled by your movement towards them, they will turn on their defensive mood and will attack you 
  • Don’t place your hand too close to their head on their shell if you don’t want to get a bite. That is because snapping turtles are capable of turning their head and reaching a distance on their back 
  • Place your two hands on their shell between their two rear legs. You must put one of your hands on the above and another below
  • Please restrain from picking it up too high from the ground if you don’t want to cause snapping turtle injury. Because  in case if you accidentally drop the turtle, it will injure the turtle 
  • Never pick the turtle by pulling its tail, as it may cause snapping turtle injury 

How Dangerous Is A Snapping Turtle Bite?

The severity of this reptile’s bite depends on its size. But whatever the size of the turtle, it may cause severe pain and loss of blood. Hence, you should always try to save yourself from getting near their mouths. 

Because once they snap a bite, they will clamp until they wish to release. To get a clearer idea about their biting severity, watch this Youtube Video

1. Bite Of Small Size Snapping Turtle

A small size turtle will be able to bite you and will draw a small amount of blood. The force they can apply through their beak of mouth is inadequate to break down the bone. Thus, it won’t pose that much risk but will be painful beyond words. When they bite,  you may get vascular damage on your skin.

2. Bite Of A Large Size Snapping Turtle

On the other hand, big ones are more dangerous turtles than those small ones. They can put almost 226 N force through their beak on you. This force is pretty enough to break down the bones of your finger and cut off the finger or toe apart from you. 

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Even if they bite on your muscles, you will lose a chunk of muscles from your body. Because, after an extended period, when they will release you from the bite, they will have the detached muscles of you in their mouth. 

How To Treat The Wound Of Snapping Turtles Bite?

Though in rare cases, you may get bitten by snapping turtles, it’s not an impossible case. They bite using their beaks which work as snapping turtles teeth. Whatever the severity of the bite, you must treat them as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may get an infection on those wounds, which may get complex to treat later.

How To Treat The Wound Of Snapping Turtles Bite

You need to follow the following steps to treat the wound that you get from the turtle’s bite:

1. Minor Wounds

Typically, you will get minor wounds from baby or small size snapping turtles. You may get only superficial cuts with little to no bleeding. To treat this type of wound, follow the step.

Step 1. You need to clean the wound carefully first.

Step 2. After that, applying antiseptic to the bitten place is a must to avoid bacterial infections. Even if there is no cut in the skin, you must clean the area where the reptile has bitten.

2. Intermediate Wounds

In this case, the bite will go down onto your skin to a moderate level. You might have a significant amount of bleeding from the cut. 

To treat this type of wound, follow step 1. Then you have to stop the bleeding. For this purpose, you can use any clean bandage for applying pressure before applying an antiseptic.

3. Deep Wounds

Suppose the wound is too severe if there is no sign of bleeding to stop, even after applying pressure on the wound for 10 minutes. This enormous amount of blood loss can cause more complexity further. Thus, we suggest you head straight to the hospital if the situation worsens.


In this FAQ section, we will answer several commonly asked questions about the danger of Snapping Turtles.

Q: Can You Get Sick From Touching With A Snapping Turtle?

Yes. This type of turtle may contain a significant amount of salmonella. So, if you don’t wash your hand after touching them, you may get affected by the bacteria and get salmonellosis.

Q: Are Snapping Turtles  Friendly Creatures?

No. They are not friendly and are more likely to seem to be aggressive sometimes. Even if they don’t show their aggressive attitude, they avoid the presence of humans. Even they hide so well in the water that you may not know the coexistence of these turtles in the water.

Q: Do Snapping Turtles Attack Swimmers?

No. They are comfortable inside water and can find their escape easily when they encounter humans. Thus, they have less intention to attack swimmers if swimmers don’t mess with them intentionally.


Snapping turtle’s gigantic size makes them look scary. Hence, it’s a matter of concern, “are snapping turtles dangerous? Is it safe to swim in a pond with them?” Though they look dangerous, they are not fierce enough and manage to flee if they sense any humans.

But for any reason, if they feel perplexed and uncomfortable, they might attack you to defend themselves. You can easily avoid the risks of getting hurt by them by following easy tactics. However, if you accidentally get bitten by this reptile, you must treat that soon to avoid further complexity.

Are Snapping Turtles Dangerous

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