The common snapping turtle, or snapper (Chelydra serpentina), is found from SE and S central Canada to NE South America. The adult is often over 18 in. (45 cm) long and weighs over 30 lb (14 kg); some specimens weigh twice as much. The alligator snapper (Macrochelys temmincki) is found in the SE United States and the Mississippi valley. One of the world's largest turtles, it may reach a length of 30 in. (75 cm) and weigh 200 lb (90 kg). It has a muscular, wormlike projection on the tongue, which it uses as a fishing lure as it lies concealed in the mud of a river bottom. In Japan and Europe, where snapping turtles were imported as pets, the turtles have found in the wild and are invasive species.
Snapping turtles are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Chelonia, family Chelydridae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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