Two fearsome and mega-sized freshwater turtles look so much alike that people often can’t tell them apart, so laws protecting one help protect the other. Both the common snapping turtle and alligator snapping turtle are powerful predators with thick, long tails that look like a dragon’s tail because they are covered with saw-toothed, raised ridges. After hatching from their land-based nests, both snappers spend their life in the water. Alligator snappers prefer rivers and streams, while common snappers are more likely to be in lakes and ponds. FWC photo by Tim Donovan
There are other differences between a common and alligator snapping turtle, especially in their shells, heads and size. The alligator snapping turtle carapace has 3 distinctive ridges of raised scales.
FWC biologists conduct alligator snapping turtle research on the Suwannee River, October 17, 2012. FWC