My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

Snapping Turtle walking on the Ice

Snapping Turtle on Ice
Yes that is a Snapping Turtle on the Ice

You always need to be ready to expect the unexpected and last Friday was one of those days. I have seen Amphibians climbing over the ice and snow to get to their vernal pools (which should be happening soon) . . . . but I never thought about Reptiles enjoying winter sports!!! Friday I found this Snapping Turtle ice skating across Red House Lake in Allegany State Park and so I asked this turtle, “Dude . . . . what are you thinking?”

Snapping Turtle on Ice
How I found this big Snapper on Red House Lake

Snapping Turtles will hibernate in shallow muddy water bodies and typically become buried in the mud. When the Snapping Turtles are hibernating, they will not breathe for up to six months while the ice is covering the water! I have seen photos of snappers moving under thin ice but I have never heard of any walking on top of the ice . . . . so I think this individual was a very cool find! I located this great link that states “Snapping turtles in our latitude (Maine) begin to wake up in early May, when the water is about 41 to 50 F (5-10°C).”. OK the air temperature had reached 50°F but I know for a fact this frozen lake isn’t that warm. “Dude . . . . what are you thinking?”

Snapping Turtle
The Snapping Turtle’s Head

After doing more online searching, a website reveled that “hibernation begins by late October; however, radiotelemetry studies indicate not all snapping turtles hibernate (Ultsch and Lee 1983)”. Hmm some snapping turtles do not hibernate? Isn’t that interesting . . . . could this be one of those freak individuals who failed to hibernate this winter? I admit this one individual was slow moving but I did not notice him comatose in any way. I actually thought for a turtle he was flying across the ice (faster than I have ever seen them walking across the road during the summer months)!   You go Turtle Dude!

Snapping Turtle

I am not sure if I have solved this turtle on the ice mystery but I did enjoy investigating it and capturing these photos. Here is a slide show if you would like to see more pictures of this guy and this should be a reminder to everyone that great things can be easily overlooked! I wonder how many people actually saw this guy out on the ice before disappearing in the waters edges once again?

All I can say is Snapping Turtle: March 6th 2009 (CHECK)!

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40 responses

  1. Tom- What a neat find. I’m guessing he/she was pretty placid, being on the ice and all? Great use of fill flash!


    8 March 2009 at 10:58 am

  2. Tom – Thanks, I actually was able to capture much better shots with the Point and Shoot than with the Nikon!

    8 March 2009 at 11:32 am

  3. What a very strange scene. Really something you don’t see every day. Great find.

    8 March 2009 at 12:10 pm

  4. Amazing! Thanks…

    8 March 2009 at 12:29 pm

  5. Lisa at Greenbow

    What a magnificent animal. What a lucky find. Just look at those claws. No wonder he could scoot quickly over the ice. I love the slide show too. It looks as though someone took giant pinking shears to the back of his shell and the top of his tail. The next time I see a SNapper I will be looking more closely at its shell in the back. I am usually busy looking at the business end. It looks prehistoric. All I can say is WOW.

    8 March 2009 at 12:47 pm

  6. This wins my personal best post I have read all day. That is totally amazing and your photographs are terrific!

    8 March 2009 at 1:11 pm

  7. Love the picture of the turtle on the ice. Mystifying to say the least. I wonder if he just woke up or something.

    8 March 2009 at 2:25 pm

  8. That’s a face only a mother could love!
    Dude- go back to bed!

    Thanks for the tats Tom!!

    8 March 2009 at 3:00 pm

  9. Quite the unexpected! Doesn’t even look real.

    8 March 2009 at 3:56 pm

  10. Red

    That is so bizarre! And people say California is full of nuts. Obviously we’ve got nothing on upstate NY 😉

    Maybe this turtle goes faster on the ice because 1) it’s claws can dig in and, 2) the belly can glide. Just a hypothesis…

    8 March 2009 at 4:05 pm

  11. Now that IS an unexpected surprise. What a neat post.

    8 March 2009 at 4:20 pm

  12. I can’t get over the eyes–they’re so different. Good thing he didn’t seem mean. What a great find.

    8 March 2009 at 4:45 pm

  13. It looks like it could use a good meal and something to drink. Those are awesome photos of an almost ugly (or is it so ugly it’s cute?) creature.

    8 March 2009 at 7:49 pm

  14. That is unbelievable! That first shot is just the coolest perspective! Glad you got down to get that shot! Very big old bugger, that snapper is – would make LOTS of soup 😉

    8 March 2009 at 8:17 pm

  15. That has to be the coldest turtle I have ever seen. 🙂

    8 March 2009 at 10:00 pm

  16. Those are some really fantastic shots! What an unusual and incredible capture!

    8 March 2009 at 10:15 pm

  17. A turtle on ice. How unusual, but interesting.
    Years ago, when we first moved into our house, we found a snapping turtle in one of our basement window wells. Of course, we had to get it out–so we used heavy duty work gloves and lifted it out. That was one mad turtle.
    Your guy looks much calmer.

    8 March 2009 at 11:18 pm

  18. Great shots of this snapper – he looks like a big one, too!

    8 March 2009 at 11:22 pm

  19. That turtle ought to go down in the Ectotherm Hall of Fame.

    I would have been laughing too hard to take even half as decent a picture.

    Great pictures and what a terrific find!

    9 March 2009 at 12:04 am

  20. What a cool sighting Tom! Talk about something incongruous! I’d never have thought I’d see something like that!

    9 March 2009 at 6:59 am

  21. That’s one TOUGH turtle!

    9 March 2009 at 8:24 am

  22. An excellent find! Love these photos! I want to know what he’s thinking too! Getting a headstart on all his other fellow snappers perhaps???

    9 March 2009 at 9:12 am

  23. Sherri

    Isn’t he beautiful!!! What a great find!

    9 March 2009 at 11:24 am

  24. Patty

    Tom and his famous Snapping Turtle! Wow you have some cool shots of this one, I love his eyes and I’m wondering if he has ever had butterfly kisses???

    9 March 2009 at 11:58 am

  25. What a great find, tom. Love the look at that face.

    9 March 2009 at 1:37 pm

  26. “Snapper on Ice” is just awesome. Wonder how much he/she weighs? Can you tell its sex from the bottom side like a lobster?

    9 March 2009 at 2:16 pm

  27. Rex

    Way cool! I wonder why he decided to move about. Sarah and I are curious…did he ever find his way back into the water?

    9 March 2009 at 3:46 pm

  28. Grace

    A great find – and great pictures.

    9 March 2009 at 9:51 pm

  29. Thanks Tom, got the tat’s today. So nice of you!
    Will let you know how many more I need, as soon as I get the okay from Sparky’s teacher. She loved them. She’ll be wearing them on Spring Break next week in Myrtle Beach!

    9 March 2009 at 10:14 pm

  30. Bo

    Awesome! I saw my first snapper last summer. The crazy thing let me get my lens about 2 feet away from his nose. . .or maybe I’m the one that was crazy! 🙂

    I’ve definitely never seen a snapper skating though.

    9 March 2009 at 10:17 pm

  31. @ Scienceguy – Exactly . . . fun for sure!
    @ Sally – thanks
    @ Lisa – Those are fun claws for sure! Do look close they are amazing but not too close!
    @ Threecollie – cheers! Glad you enjoyed this!
    @ Kallen – they must have!
    @ Lynne – I know right . . . go back to bed dude! Glad you enjoyed the tats!
    @ kaholly – that might have been the lighting but something you don’t see every day!
    @ Red – that is possible . . !
    @ NCmountainwoman – thanks
    @ Joan – I love the eyes also! The eyes on the summer one is much nicer!
    @ Linda – no idea his plans!
    @ Bird Girl – Thanks and was a large dude! Soup . . . hmm!
    @ nelya – thanks
    @ Robin – Thanks and they are very unusual for sure!
    @ KGMom – that had to be an experience! Ugg glad you got it out though!
    @ Marty – Thanks and was very large!
    @ Hugh – Thanks but wasn’t that hard . . . just need to keep your eyes on them to make sure it doesn’t go snap! And not get too close!
    @ jayne – I wouldn’t have also! Glad it was found!
    @ Nina – cold feet but very tough!
    @ Shelley – must have been getting a snapper jump on the others!
    @ Sherri – he is beautiful for sure . . . for a snapping turtle!
    @ Patty – thanks sweety!
    @ Robin – thanks and they have amazing eyes!
    @ Marlene – it was a big one for sure! I know that I didn’t want to pick it up or touch it . . but was big! Someone might be able to figure it out its sex!
    @ Rex – it was moving right towards the open water so my guess . . . GUESS would be yes!
    @ Grace – thanks Grace!

    9 March 2009 at 10:40 pm

  32. @ Dreamscape – so glad you enjoyed them! Very cool sparky will be representing at spring break!
    @ Bo – they are amazing for sure! Glad you have had a chance to see them! They do let you get close but be careful!

    9 March 2009 at 10:44 pm

  33. Great pictures. Thanks so much for sharing. Says something for wrinkles!

    9 March 2009 at 11:31 pm

  34. Nancy

    Spectacular shots of the snapper. An amazing opportunity. It’s not often that you see a snapping turtle out for a stroll… especially in the dead of winter! Did research on snapping turtles back in the 70’s… collected female turtles at Oak Orchard when they would come out on the dikes to lay their eggs. Elegant creatures… certainly have withstood the test of time.

    9 March 2009 at 11:50 pm

  35. Great find and photos, Tom. If this critter had better access to online resources, it would probably behave in a more typical manner.

    10 March 2009 at 2:39 am

  36. Linda O'Brien

    WOW Tom!! What a post! And what a response! You certainly do have a huge following. The slide show was great too.

    10 March 2009 at 10:58 am

  37. Incredible! The eyes especially are mesmerizing. We’ve seen snappers in a lot of strange places, but never on the ice! What an amazing animal — he looks truly prehistoric. Thanks for sharing these shots!

    11 March 2009 at 12:28 pm

  38. WOW! Quite some ice grippers on that guy. Being cold-blooded, I wouldn’t even have expected them to be out yet. Must have been heading to the frig for a snack.

    12 March 2009 at 9:45 pm

  39. Ok. That’s just weird. But strangely beautiful.
    My girls LOVE THIS, by the way.

    12 March 2009 at 11:34 pm

  40. Dang-o! What an interesting find. You are one lucky man. This is just plain fascinating. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

    13 March 2009 at 10:00 pm

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