Do Alligator Snapping Turtles Bite People

Do Alligator Snapping Turtles Bite People? Is It Deadly?

Alligator snapping turtles are a species of majorly carnivorous turtles. These turtles are native to American Fresh Water and have been associated with biting people.

Do alligator snapping turtles bite people? The answer is yes. These reptiles will not hesitate to fight humans and bite them if they feel threatened. These creatures can have a bite force of 1000 PSI. Their primary diet consists of mammals and marine life but they can be deadly against humans.

However, these turtles are much more complex creatures that cannot be explained in a few words. Let’s dive down below to know more about this ferocious reptile.

Video of a huge Alligator Snapping Turtle biting: 

Do Alligator Snapping Turtles Bite?


Alligator snapping turtles are found primarily living in American Freshwater, these turtles can grow up to 70-90 kg which is extremely heavy. Due to their sheer size, weight, and protective shell, they are a deadly hunter. They will not hesitate to bite humans if provoked.

These reptiles are opportunistic hunters that survive in the wild by hunting down small animals ranging from fish, insects, other turtles, and aquatic species. These turtles may also expand their diet by hunting small rodents, mice, and squirrels too!

As a result of being in the wild, an alligator snapping a turtle’s jaw is highly flexible. If threatened, they will use their shells as a protective shelter, waiting for the right moment to strike. When the time arrives, they will use their jaw with full force to inflict a devastating blow.

Alligator Snapping Turtles

Although there is no feasible data to claim a human life was lost due to their bite, there are cases where a snapping turtle bit someone. There have also been cases where the entire finger was ripped off from the bone by a bite of this turtle!

But wait, there’s a silver lining. They are a hunter but they won’t hurt humans unless provoked first. This may mean that either someone hurt the turtle or the turtle felt threatened by the presence of humans which provoked it to bite. So, as long as you do not hover your hands around their mouth, you should be fine

Another notable case where an Alligator Snapping Turtle may bite is if they are injured. They feel vulnerable when injured during which they may attack anyone who tries to help them.

Reasons Why Alligator Snapping Turtles May Bite You

It isn’t every day that a turtle bites a human. However, it isn’t something unavoidable and unheard of as well. Alligators snapping turtles usually do not harm humans unless they feel threatened. 

They may also bite if they are injured or hungry. This can happen even if you are trying to help them. So strong caution is necessary when you are trying to help such an animal.

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Can An Alligator Snapping Turtle Bite Off Your Finger Or Toe?

Yes, the bite force of such a turtle may reach up to 1000 PSI. It is just a few points less than a lion’s bite force which goes from between 1000 to 1100 PSI. This sounds extremely unreal but is true according to Whit Gibbons, who is a herpetologist and Professor Emeritus of Ecology, University of Georgia. A snapping turtle can bite off your toe or finger with that pressure-induced.

Alligator Snapping Turtles

An alligator snapping turtle’s heavyweight and massive size play an essential role in their bite. Due to excessive growth and strength, their jaws become incredibly strong and sharp. Along with their jaw flexibility, these turtles are not something you want to mess with unless you want to risk losing your finger off.

What Happens When An Alligator Snapping Turtle Bites?

Turtle bite can depend a lot on the species of turtles that are biting. For instance, a pet turtle bite can cause a tingle or cause small bleeding. However, that is not the case with alligator snapping turtles. We learned about their size, weight, and bite force.

Some powerful bites can be deadly and life-threatening. It may cause bleeding and loss of an entire finger. Hence, it is recommended you keep yourself at a safe distance from them if possible. It is also recommended you restrain using your hand to feed them because it opens up the risk even more.

What To Do If An Alligator Snapping Turtle Bite You?

We learned above that alligator snappers are dangerous and their forceful bites can be deadly. They can bite anywhere from your finger or toe to vulnerable spots which can cause serious injuries. 

It is strongly advised you call 911 or your local emergency number if there is excessive blood loss. If the injuries are serious enough to be lethal, do not wait and call 911 immediately to seek urgent care.

An Alligator Snapping Turtle

If somehow you are unable to reach out to emergency support, you should call someone to drive you to a local medical center. Leaving the wound open may cause infection and poisoning turning it life-threatening. Another thing that should be kept in mind is that the turtle behaves abnormally due to temperature changes.

Tips To Avoid Getting Bitten By An Alligator Snapping Turtle

Unfortunately, there aren’t many tips to follow since it is advisable to avoid and keep your distance from an alligator snapping turtle when you see them. 

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Helpful advice may include:

  1. You reach out to them from the back if the situation ever arises. 
  2. Using protective gear, such as rubber gloves, when interacting with the turtle is also advised to avoid the risk of getting bitten. 
  3. You should avoid hovering your hands near the mouth of the turtle

Is It Safe To Keep An Alligator Snapping Turtle As A Pet?

It is no surprise that there are exotic collections of snapping turtles available for grab intended for luxury homes and marine collectors.

Unfortunately due to its sheer size and weight, it often causes a hassle to keep it as a pet. It requires a large space with a considerable amount of diet. These turtles are also temperature sensitive, a small temperature change may affect their diet and abnormal behavior may be observed.

Is It Safe To Keep An Alligator Snapping Turtle As A Pet

Even after considering everything, it is an extremely dangerous reptile to be kept as a pet. Especially when its bite force reaches 1000 PSI. Hence it is discouraged to be kept as a pet and leave it to itself in the habitat it belongs to.


Alligator snapping turtles are quite the interesting ones. Having questions about them is normal as most of us are not familiar with them. Let’s check them out.

1. Are Alligator Snapping Turtles And Snapping Turtles The Same?

No, Alligator Snapping Turtle and Snapping Turtles are not the same. This is a common mistake everyone makes when identifying them.

2. Are Baby Alligator Snapping Turtles Equally Dangerous Like The Adult Turtles?

No, a baby turtle is much safer than an adult. However, their hardest bites are still dangerous and may cause bleeding.


Turtles are adorable creatures that can be kept as pets, however, not all turtles are safe. These turtles are an interesting reptile and the heaviest existing in United States freshwater. 

But do alligator snapping turtles bite people? Well, they can be fearsome creatures that may attack humans if they feel threatened. Their strongest bites can be extremely deadly and thus, strong caution is necessary to avoid getting bitten by them.

If you are wondering if red-eared slider turtles and florida softshell turtles bite? check out our articles on it.

Do Alligator Snapping Turtles Bite People

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