Watch out, Mario! Five-year-old common snapping turtle Bowser is settling into his new home in Wild Florida. He is a former pet who arrived at the Zoo earlier this year.
Bowser currently weighs about five pounds, but he could reach more than 20 pounds as he matures in the coming years.
Common snapping turtles are found throughout much of the eastern United States and southern Canada. They’re a familiar sight in Brevard County’s freshwater lakes and ponds, and quite a few have taken up residence on Zoo property through the years.
Though they certainly excel at catching fish and invertebrates, you may be surprised to learn these turtles enjoy snacking on aquatic vegetation, too.
The common snapping turtle (which has a relatively smooth shell) should not be confused with its larger cousin, the alligator snapping turtle (which has a pyramided shell and more prominently hooked beak). Alligator snapping turtles have a more limited range, too—you’ll typically find them only from east Texas to northwest Florida up to southwest Iowa.
If they’re not disposed of properly, chemicals are washed into our waterways and harm the animals that live there. You can help turtles of all kinds by skipping fertilizer during the rainy season (and cutting back during the rest of the year), picking up after your pets and cleaning your vehicle at a commercial car wash instead of on the driveway.