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Science And Nature

Snapping turtle brutally takes down a water snake on camera

This short article was originally featured on Field & Stream.

In 2015, professional photographer Kerry Wix was fishing at Dale Hollow Lake in Tennessee when he noticed a large northern water snake that were struggling to haul itself from the water onto a concrete spillway. Regardless of how hard it thrashed, the snake couldnt appear to move.I couldnt tell that which was going on, nevertheless, you know me: I usually have a camera handy, Wix latertoldF&Shunting editor Will Brantley.Wix dunked a GoPro under the surface and revealed that which was eating at the snakeliterally, since it proved.

A standard snapping turtle had clamped the serpents tail between its powerful jaws. The turtles front claws were shredding hunks of flesh off the struggling snake. The snake could poke its head above the top to breathe, even brandishing its fangs threateningly toward the camera at one point, nonetheless it had no chance to get away from the snappers grip. Actually, once the snake briefly drifted from the turtlewhich was momentarily preoccupied with swallowing a big bite of the snakes fleshit lacked the strength to swim off. The turtle quickly pounced on the mangled tail with simple of its jaws and resumed feeding. Eventually, the snapper scuttled back to its hideaway beneath a rock overhang with the subdued snake in its jaws. Field & Streamposted the video of the incident on our Facebook page, where it has racked up over 5 million views.

A turtle expert reduces the epic video

Dustin Garig, a biologist supervisor in the wildlife diversity program for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, says the video provides an unusual check out the predatory behavior of the normal snapping turtle. This is rare to catch on film because snapping turtles spend about 90 percent of these lives underwater, Garig says. You may see one cross a road occasionally or possibly a fisherman catches one, but typically, you dont see this business.

Scientists have long known that snappers are omnivores that obtain the most their diet from aquatic animals. Studies of these stomach contents have resulted in fish, tadpoles, frogs, birds (including ducks), snakes, along with other turtles. However they dont know just as much about how exactly snapping turtles eat those forms of critters. Sure, folks have found snakes in the stomachs of turtles, but I’d much more likely have assumed that the snake was dead once the turtle found it, Garig says. You wouldnt necessarily assume its in a position to remove a snake such as this. I dont typically think about snapping turtles actively seeking big snakes. That is one ambitious turtle.

Garig estimates the turtles shell is approximately a foot long and its own weight is 18 to 20 pounds. Snapping turtles mature around 11 to 13 yrs . old. The main one in the video can be an adult that Garig estimates is most likely around 15 yrs . old. Adult northern water snakes range between 2 and 4-1/2 feet long, and the main one the snapper took down is just about 4 feet long. Common snappers and northern water snakes are usually found along water edges.

The video captures just a fraction of what Wix said was at the very least a 30-minute struggle between your two critters. Garig says the snake was likely attracted by the commotion of the fisherman dropping his bait in the water and moved nearer to investigate. It had been probably searching for a straightforward meal, and the turtle was hunkered right here the overhang shown in the video, he explains. Snappers are ambush predators. They lie lower in the mud and frequently have algae growing on the backs, so theyre camouflaged. The snake probably swam past, and the snapper could shimmy out and grab it by the tail.

That initial attack proved crucial. A wholesome water snake is fast enough to flee a snapping turtle, but this ones tail got wounded, says Garig.Actually, this snake probably wouldve died even though it had escaped, and the turtle could have found it later and eaten it. After the snapper caught it in those powerful jaws, there wasnt much the snake could do.

Snapping turtles killing large prey is rare and getting an underwater view of even rarer because snappers often reside in murky water. This doesnt happen often. I’d say that is somewhat atypical predation for a snapping turtle as the large most their diet is fish and amphibians, says Garig. However they are opportunistic feeders, so if this giant meat noodle comes swimming by, plus they can grab it, they’ll try to go on it down. Once snappers understand this big, they basically haven’t any predators, to allow them to be very bold.

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