Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
This large, aquatic turtle is characterized by its relatively smooth shell, sizable head, snake-like neck (hence "serpentina"), and long tail. It has a small plastron and cannot withdraw very far into its shell for protection; in most cases, it's powerful bite is enough to hold off any would-be predators.
This species is often confused with the less common and even larger Alligator Snapping Turtle. The shell of the Alligator Snapping Turtle is more ruggose with a row of 3-5 supramarginal scutes. This extra row of scutes is completely absent in the Snapping Turtle. If visible during defensive displays, the tongue of the Snapping Turtle is flat and fleshy, while that of the Alligator Snapping Turtle has a worm-like lure. In a side-by-side comparison, the head of the Snapping Turtle is more oval and smaller, the beak less pronounced, and the eyes more visible when viewed from above.
The juveniles of the species look similar, but with bumpier shells.
This species is often simply called a snapper.
This species is found in practically every kind of body of water, from large lakes, to agricultural ponds, to rivers and creeks. Slower-moving waters with plenty of vegetation and muddy bottoms are preferred.