Late last month, a short video of a snapping turtle preying on a snake surfaced online and began to go viral. The clip, shared on Youtube by ViralHog, offers a rare glimpse into the underwater lives of adult snapping turtles. It has garnered more than two million views since June 27.
The video begins with a person filming from a rock overlooking a clear, flowing creek. Suddenly, the camera zooms in tight on the the sharp beak of a snapping turtle concealed beneath an overhanging rock. Then the turtle extends its neck and noses toward a brightly-colored snake in the middle of the creek.
In an impressively quick maneuver, the long-necked amphibian clamps its powerful jaws down on the snake and recedes back into its ambush spot with the flailing reptile in tow. Watch it for yourself below.
It’s unclear by the footage what species of snapping turtle is shown in the video, but there are only three species of snapping turtle in the United States: the common snapping turtle, the alligator snapping turtle, and the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. All three species are omnivores that spend most of their lives underwater. Studies of their stomach contents have turned up the remains of fish, tadpoles, frogs, birds, snakes, and even other turtles.
Dustin Garig, a biologist supervisor in the wildlife diversity program for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, recently told F&S contributor Steven Hill that little is known about the manner in which snapping turtles tend to feed on snakes.
“You wouldn’t necessarily assume it’s able to take down a snake like this,” Garig said, referencing a different video of a snapper eating a live snake. “I don’t typically think of snapping turtles actively going after big snakes.” Hill was interviewing Garig about an F&S video from 2015 in which a turtle estimated at 15 to 20 pounds feeds on 4-1/2-foot northern water snake. You can watch that video and read more of Garig’s commentary here.
The caption on the more recent video doesn’t reveal when the incident took place, but it does list the location as Manhattan, Kansas. Kansas is home to both alligator snappers and the common snapping turtle. Sunflower State wildlife officials logged a new record for common snapper back in 2016. That turtle, caught in the Arkansas River near the town of Hays, weighed a whopping 45 pounds, according to the Kansas Department of Parks and Wildlife.