Frequently Asked Questions

Private Fishing Ponds

I caught a snapping turtle. What should I do with it?

Two types of snapping turtle are found in Texas. Caution is advised when handling either type. They do bite, and their jaws are strong.

The common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) has an oval-shaped head and a comparatively smooth, rounded shell that appears too small for its body. The alligator snapping turtle (Macroclemys temmincki) looks more like a small dinosaur with three distinct ridges on its shell. An alligator snapper has a triangular head and one feature that is unique among turtles: a fleshy "lure" at the bottom of its mouth. When the turtle opens its jaws under water, the lure moves with the current and fools potential prey animals into thinking it's a worm.

Common snappers have no special protections, but the alligator snapping turtle is a threatened species in Texas. If you catch one, it should be returned to its habitat, as close as possible to the spot where it was caught.