Snap To It!

American Indians tell a story of how the weight of the world was built on the shell of the “Great Turtle,” a snapping turtle. The snapping turtle is honored for its strength and stamina.

Most people around here aren’t so kind. Snappers, they say, are ornery, aggressive, ugly, and good for nuthin’ but eatin’.


Photo: Ontley via Creative Commons 4.0

Snappers are all over the place in Virginia, if you know where to look. Old-timers will offer to come fish them out of your ponds for you, so they don’t chew off your duck’s feet.  “If a snapping turtle bites you, it won’t let go until it thunders,” they say.

Which, of course, isn’t true. Snapping turtles are shy creatures that won’t bite unless provoked. They look weirdly prehistoric because they are prehistoric, hanging around in ponds, virtually unchanged, for the past 90 million years.

Evolution passed them by. Or, you could say, they were built tough and just right to begin with. They didn’t need your stinking evolution.

Unlike other turtles, a snapper can’t tuck its head inside its shell.  But it can reach its amazingly long neck around and bite your fingers if you try to pick it up and don’t know what you’re doing. (I told you not to provoke him!)

Unlike box and painted turtles, the cuties of the turtle world, all of this has led to a bad reputation for snappers.

David Ortiz has a bad reputation because he does things like this.

Snapping turtles get a bad rap simply because they look strange.

The Oakland A’s Single A affiliate is the Beloit Snappers.

beloit snappers

The Snappers are off to a slow, turtle-like 14-22 start in the Midwest League, Western Division, this season, which isn’t very snapper-like. Only the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have a worse record.

Come on, Snappers, snap to it!

The Wildlife Center of Virginia got this one, patient #15-0395, a few weeks ago after animal control in Culpeper, Virginia picked it up in a nearby park.


The vets think it got hit by a car, injuring its carapace (that’s poetic vet-speak for the top of a turtle’s shell). You can still see its injury.

The vets and rehabbers did their life-saving thing:

“We did a short regimen of pain killers and flushing of the wound. We also did a week of laser therapy to speed up cell regeneration in that area. The wound is still visibly present though the tissue is healed and closed. However, this guy is TOO feisty to stay with us, so he’s [ready to be set] free!”

They wrapped the “feisty” snapper up in a box and Editor/Husband brought it home so we could release it back at the park in Culpeper.

(Turtles are homebodies, hard-wired for their very limited territory. This is why it’s nice to help a turtle cross a busy road, but don’t take it any farther than that.)

help turtles cross the road

Cardboard boxes are fine for toting many things, like shoes, and cereal, and old tax records, but maybe not so much for transporting feisty 15-pound, 90-million year old prehistoric turtles. Snapper broke out of the box and was sitting in the back of the Subaru by the time Editor/Husband got home.

I’m sure the snapper was simply eager to get out of the hospital and back to its pond.

We got the snapper back into its box, headed to the park where it came from, and carried the box down to the creek bank.


Home Sweet Home.

I expect turtles to be slow and methodical about things. You know, slow as a turtle.

But, the actual release took only 10 seconds or so. Seven of those seconds was carefully turning the box on its side so the turtle could slip out onto the bank of the creek.


 Do not let anyone try to convince you that a cardboard box is a secure mode of transportation for a 15-pound snapping turtle.

Three seconds later, the turtle was off, diving into the water and out of sight.

And, there it goes … 





Wouldn’t you know it, we had the Dee Gordon of snapping turtles.

May 23 is World Turtle Day.

Happy snapping, Snappers!

9 thoughts on “Snap To It!

  1. That turtle sure is a trooper! It’s good to know some people still care enough to take care of nature’s miracles.
    If you’ve never been to Beloit for a game, I highly recommend it. It’s like a throw back to the old minor league parks. When we first came across it, we were surprised that it really wasn’t a ‘stadium’, but a ballpark in the middle of a neighborhood. We had fun and met some of the best baseball fans there, also. I hope they can turn things around, and I wouldn’t mind seeing them play my Whitecaps in a rematch of the 2007 WML championship!

    • Awesome review of the Snappers’ park … thanks for sharing! I love the small, hometown look. I think I read that Beloit is one of the smallest minor league markets … I’m glad they support their team and I hope the park never gets turned into a stadium! :)

  2. My old Volvo (going on 440,000 miles) was driven out of the show room at about the same time as your speedy snapper first climbed out of the nest. Two relics of the prehistoric era. In the past couple months, some of the paint on the roof has faded. A blemish on the top, just like the star of your blog post.

    I don’t drive anyone in the Volvo anymore. It’s my commuter on the rugged Bay Area roads and weekend errand runner. I think however that your turtle would have been the perfect passenger. He would have been quite comfortable in the back of the Volvo for the trip to the pond. Yep. Dee and me barreling down the road to the muddy shore.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Paula! It’s always a heartwarming thing to watch a little animal — now healed thanks to the Wildlife Center — head back home. I’m lucky to get to help out with those releases from time to time. Happy New Year!

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