Can A Snapping Turtle Bite Your Finger Off? – Snapping Turtle Bite Force

Every pet lover wants a calm, long-living, and adorable pet. If you are looking for a turtle pet, then you will be intrigued to know whether turtles are safe to own or not. Some turtle species can be aggressive, especially snapping turtles, because the bite force of a snapping is powerful. 

Can a snapping turtle bite your finger off? In this post, I will discuss ‘how hard do snapping turtles bite’ and ‘how you can protect yourself from a snapping turtle attack.’ If I consider snapping turtle mouth, snapping turtle teeth, and snapping turtle jaw strength, then it can seriously bite your finger off.

Can A Snapping Turtle Bite Your Finger Off?

You may be shocked to know that these turtles are one of two Americas reptiles that can bite a human. Snapping turtle bites can be dangerous, and they are physically capable of biting your finger. Children are usually the victims of snap turtle attacks because they can not defend themselves.

Two types of snapping turtles in the United States: Common snapping turtles and Alligator Snapping turtles. Common snapping turtles are small in weight and size. The average weight of these common snapping turtles is between 10 to 35 pounds (4.5 to 16 Kg). In addition, the record weight of common snapping turtles is 75 pounds (34 Kg). 

If you get attacked by a common snapping turtle, its bites can give you mild scars because they are incapable of chopping your finger off owing to their small size. At the same time, the Alligator Snapping turtle has a big size and is bulky as well. On average, their weight is between 150 to 170 pounds (70 to 79 Kg), making them heavier than sea turtles. 

Jaws of Alligator Snapping Turtles are sharp and have cutting edges, and are a true expanse of a biting machine. With their huge size and physique, they can produce enough force using their beaks to cut off fingers from yours. Not only do they cut off human fingers, but they can also chop off wooden boomsticks employing their toothless beaks.

Ultimate Proofs: Snapping Turtle Bite A Finger Off

Let me share with you some cases reported about Alligator Snapping Turtle attacks:

A case reported in Louisiana a few years back said someone had cut the alligator snapping turtle open and was shocked to see the human finger in its abdomen. The report seems to be genuine because it is legal in the state to eat big turtles. People make turtle soup to celebrate their carnivals.

The state had recently declared the consumption and killing of snapping turtles because they are an endangered species. Still, many people are unaware of the law.

Another incident was reported in which a 15-years old boy saw an alligator snapping turtle near a water stream. To take his photograph with the turtle, he decided to move it to some other sport. Suddenly, the turtle snapped, and his index finger in his left hand. 

Never play with Alligator snapping turtles to tease them because they are aggressive and can attack with full force. 

The last incident reported was from Alabama’s bar club where some fools bet to put their hand inside the mouth of an alligator snapping turtle until it shuts. Barmen found the challenge exciting, and they participated in it. Now, the loser of the bet has only eight fingers left.

Alligator turtles in the wild sit at the bottom of the river to catch their prey. They keep the mouth wide open and jiggle the red-worm-looking tongue outside. Fish in the water come close to the Alligator snapping turtle, considering its tongue a worm, and the turtle takes advantage of this confusion to attack the fish to eat it.

Can A Snapping Turtle Bite Your Toe Off?

From the above incidents, you can guess how powerful a biting turtle is. A common snapping turtle bite can leave scars on your toes, but an alligator snapping turtle is likely to bite your toes off in case it attacks your toes. I had heard of an incident of an alligator turtle attack on a middle-aged woman when she tried to approach when the turtle was resting. 

She teases the turtle by blinking her eyes and flip-flops and gets attacked by the Alligator snapping turtle. Fortunately, she saved herself and flip-flops from the attack by running above the spot. If she remains there for a few seconds, I am sure she will spend her entire life with 8 or 9 toes.

These types of incidents mostly happen in the countryside. Do Snapping Turtles Bite In Water? Alligator snapping turtles do not attack humans in water because they have enough room to run away. While resting on land, they can attack humans because their alert mode is on to protect themselves from intruders. Try not to poke these turtles’ mouths with your hands and feet.

How Hard Do Snapping Turtles Bite?

Due to their aggressive nature, snapping turtles can fiercely bite anything that comes into their range. With their sharp beak, these turtles can smash wooden broomsticks, apples, cucumbers, bananas, and electric devices like mobile phones, soda bottles, etc. If they fail to smash, they can still do much damage. 

Alligator snapping turtles try to bite everything they look at because of their giant size. Their bite force is sufficient to make the victim bleed. In contrast, a common snapping turtle is not that dangerous, but its strong jaw grip can give an everlasting scar. Turtle bite wounds will heal with time.

Why Do Snapping Turtles Bite Human Beings?

Snapping turtles do not get aggressive toward humans without any reason. They attack when they sense any danger from rowdy humans. We know that snapping turtles are big along with hard shells, but they still feel unprotected because they can not put their legs and head in the body. 

To protect themselves from intruders looking for their shells, they always seem to be in aggressive mode. If you try to get close to these creatures, then they snap at you without any thought. You will hardly get the chance to run away if you go closer to snapping turtles.

can a snapping turtle bite your finger off

How Powerful Is A Snapping Turtle Bite?

According to research, a common snapping turtle bite force is 208 to 228N. An alligator snapping turtle can bite with a force of 160N. Its bite is powerful enough to make the target bleed. Many of us know that snapping turtles can bite with immense power among all turtle species, but it is not true because toad head turtles can bite with a force of 432N. 

Do you know we humans can bite with a power of 1100 to 1300F? Surprising why snapping turtles can bite off fingers with five times less biting force than humans, right? Unlike us, they can close their jaws with much more force. On average, research shows snapping turtles can clamp their jaws with a power of 657N. Their jaw is made to utilize every inch of that force to stun their target. 

What Is The Bite Force Of A Snapping Turtle In PSI?

An alligator snapping turtle can produce a biting force of 1000 PSI thanks to their sharp jaws. Following animals have less biting forces than Alligator snapping turtles:

  • Great White Shark: 625 PSI
  • Lion: 650 PSI
  • Bear: 925 PSI

From this, you can guess that an Alligator snapping turtle bite can cut off your fingers and toes by biting. Do you want to know why alligator snapping turtles have more biting force than common snapping turtles? Owing to their large size and wider jaws, Alligator snapping turtles can do more damage with less biting pressure.

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What To Do If a Snapping Turtle Bites You?

Do you want to know what should be done if a snapping turtle bites you? We all know that the attack of a snap turtle is really hard and can be incredibly painful. Due to the bacteria and salmonella in their saliva, there are chances of infection. You should do the following:

Loose The Turtle’s Grip

If a snapping turtle attacks you, then let the turtle loosen its jaw grip from your hand. If you try to hurt a turtle by assuming that it will make you free from its powerful jaw, then you are wrong. Hurting the turtle will panic it causing it to clamp down its jaw with more force and pressure.

Take the turtle into the water, where it gets calm and automatically leaves your hand. While doing so, keep your body at a distance from the turtle. Again I am saying you do not beat the turtle as it makes it aggressive and will cause you more pain and damage.

Treat The Wound

A recent study says that bacteria and salmonella are found in 90% of turtles, and snapping turtles is no exception. If a snapping turtle’s bite has penetrated your skin, then you should go to a doctor as soon as possible to prevent any infection from happening. Hold the wound by washing it under running tap water. 

You can wash the wounded area with a lot of soap water. If there is bleeding out of the wound, then you should apply antiseptic cream and bandage on it. To reduce the pain in the wounded area, you can wash it in slightly warm water. Do not skip consulting the doctor. Otherwise, you will get an infection.

How To Handle A Snapping Turtle To Avoid Its Biting?

Are you going to be a snapping turtle owner? If so, you must know all the necessary rules to handle your nasty pet. Even if you are not keeping a snapping turtle, the handling techniques will help you anyway. When picking up these turtles, always use both fingers and thumb.

Put your fingers on the plastron between their back legs and thumb over their shell. You need to do the same with more fingers as your turtle starts to get big. To pick up an adult snapping turtle, catch it from behind without creating any noise. Place one hand over their shell and the other hand underneath between their back legs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are Snapping Turtles Aggressive?

Snapping turtles are large, aggressive, and territorial reptiles. They have large fangs that can easily puncture your skin or even break a bone if you are unlucky enough to get bit. But despite their intimidating reputation, you can own snapping turtles. 

Can Snapping Turtles Kill You?

Snapping turtles are not aggressive towards people, but they can be dangerous if you try to handle them. If a snapping turtle snaps at you, then you can get a serious injury. Their attack is not harmful but deadly unless and until you are attacked at the neck. 

Are Snapping Turtles Dangerous?

Snapping turtles can be a big problem for many people. They are aggressive and can cause a lot of damage if you try to mess with them. If you have one in your yard, keep an eye on it, and if you see it starting to get out of hand, leave it for a while.

Final Words

Can a snapping turtle bite your finger off? Yes, they have the potential to bite your finger off, but there are tips to prevent such attacks. Additionally, it is not advisable to handle turtles with bare hands due to their capacity to attack. If you raise a turtle, you must ensure that your pet is tame and friendly. Talk to a turtle enthusiast near you before buying a turtle.

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Hey, I've done my Ph.D. in Marine Biology. I'm a turtle enthusiast and have been owning turtles for the last 22 years and dedicated to sharing my experience to help you in pet turtle upbringing.