A living dinosaur! Kids love Turdy the snapping turtle. She’s big and very friendly for a species of turtle that’s known for its cranky attitude. In our show kids learn about how these amazing turtles and six other reptiles survive in the wild through harsh winters and attacks from predators!
Turdy the snapping turtle is a huge part of our interactive show – Reptile Viking.
Kids and adults are always amazed when they first see her. Snapping turtles are just as ancient and prehistoric as they look. Scientists estimate that they’ve been mostly unchanged for the last 90 million years. Clearly they’ve been doing something right! With their sharp beak, long neck, and armored shell, they are a force to be reckoned with. They also have some unique ways of scaring off predators, and a really weird way to survive underwater all winter long.
Snapping turtles are known for their bite. They can’t actually bite harder than a human can, but their beak is very sharp. Snappers combine that sharp beak with a very long, powerful neck that lets them “snap” up fish and anything else they can catch, and boy is their bite fast!
What people don’t know is that their bite is actually their main defense while they are on land. They have an impressive looking shell, but they can’t conceal their whole body in it. Their legs and their tail stick out because their lower shell, or plastron, is actually very small.
When they are in the water cruising around on the bottom of the lake, nothing can attack them from underneath. When they are occasionally on land to search out a nesting site, or travel to another body of water, they are very vulnerable if they get flipped over. So instead of relying on their shell for protection when on land, they scare off would-be predators with their fast and powerful bite.
If that doesn’t work, snapping turtles can also release a very bad smelling odor from glands near their legs. It’s really gross!
The funniest thing though is how they survive living under the ice all winter long! While turtles do brumate (the reptilian version of hibernating) some remain active and have been seen walking around on the bottom through clear lake ice. Since they are very cold, and move very slowly during the winter, they don’t need a whole lot of oxygen. They don’t have gills like a fish, but can get all the oxygen they need by “breathing” through their butt! This usually gets a lot of laughs! It’s called cloacal respiration; truth is stranger than fiction!
Learn about this and much more in our engaging and interactive show – Reptile Viking. We hope to hear from you soon!