Meet another Back Woods resident the Chelydra serpentina osceola otherwise known as the Florida snapping turtle. All those pointy little fleshy projections (tubercles) on the back of its head help distinguish this snapper as the sub species osceola or Florida snapping turtle from the common snapping turtle Chelydra serpentina. The scientific name of of the Florida snapper has a cool etymology; Chelydra from the Greek chelys for turtle and hydros for water serpent, the specific epitaph serpentina from Latin meaning snake like probably referring to that snake like neck that can reach the back and sides of the shell, and then Osceola in honor of 19th century Florida Seminole leader Osceola.
[check out this cool etymology site: Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America – Explained http://ebeltz.net/herps/etymain.html]
Florida snapping turtles are aquatic turtles but, they do not bask like cooters or sliders. They are often found lurking in the depths of the water or nestled in the mud where they can quickly strike out at unsuspecting prey eating almost anything that passes by as well as munching on carrion and some plant life. (Note that Florida snapping turtles on land are not happy critters, they will readily strike out at you if you try to pick them up. Take great caution if you attempt to assist in a road crossing as their long flexible necks allow their mouth to reach well up the sides and back of the shell. Only attempt to pick up them up from the very rear of the shell where the sharp claws on their hide feet still pose a hazard.)
The warm weather has brought out our snappers from their burrows and probably has them on the hunt for mates and nesting spots. Breeding typically starts in April followed by egg laying in May, and hatch out in late summer or the following spring.
Our snappers love to hang out in the stormwater catchments near the East and West entrances to the nature trail…creep up slowly and peer into the depths and you just might see one!!