Posts Tagged ‘Chelydra serpentina’

The shell of the Eastern Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) must have looked as big as the deck of an aircraft carrier to the Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) that was circling around the pond, looking for a place to land yesterday at Occoquan Regional Park. I am pretty sure that the turtle, who was semi-submerged in the shallow water, basking in the sun, did not notice the temporary additional weight of the dragonfly.

When I first noticed the motionless snapping turtle in the water, I wondered if it was still alive. I kept a healthy distance from the turtle, because, as their name suggests, snapping turtles may snap with their powerful jaws when they feel threatened. I continued to observe the turtle and noticed the ever-changing pool of bubbles around its mouth that suggested that to me it was alive and breathing.

A number of Common Whitetail dragonflies were patrolling over the pond and I mused to myself that it would be really cool if one of them landed on the turtle. I was shocked when that scene unfolded in front of me just as I had imagined. Fortunately, I was not so shocked that I forgot to capture the moment with my camera.

Common Whitetail


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I spotted this large Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) in the grassy vegetation at the edge of one of the trails at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge on Monday. The turtle seemed to notice me as I bent down to take the shot, but made no attempt to move away (or to snap at me). Still. I decided to play it safe, kept a healthy distance from the turtle, and departed from the turtle without disturbing it from its comfortable resting spot.

In the past I have seen snapping turtles out of the water only in the spring, when they emerge from the muddy pond bottoms where they spend their winters, and when they are laying their eggs. I am not at all sure why this one decided to spend some time on dry land.

snapping turtle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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