Well, that was a weird encounter for sure. I never imagined I’d see a Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) in the wild, let alone at nearby Lake Hodges! They’re not native to Southern California (this Wikipedia article has a range map), and apparently it’s not even lawful to possess them here.
I was on an afternoon walk with Toni, who was very curious about the turtle, but also very hesitant to approach it – and I would’ve kept her from getting too close anyway since I knew that the turtle’s bite is quite serious.
Interestingly, this turtle was moving away from the water when I saw it, using the hiking trail. I was surprised how fast it was moving. When I got closer it stopped moving and I was able to make the photos, below.
As you can see it was quite dusty (and pretty ugly if you ask me, but who am I to judge…) and had even collected some plant material on its shell. I’d say that the upper shell was something like 30-40cm long, which would be normal for an adult specimen of the species.
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