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Master strategist 


Have You ever heard of the snapping turtles way of hunting ? Of course ! They wait hidden in the water and strike any creature passing by - this simple ! But have You ever really stay up with the snapper at night ? I did, on one sleepless night with a flashlight, and the text below is the account of what I've seen.

The observation that I have made happened actually on two or three occations during my years of keeping snapping turtles.I kept my snapping turtle in a 100 gallon enclosure. The water level was low enough to let the turtle reach the surface without the need of rising from the bottom. There was a bunch of gold fish, 30 or 40, in the tank - thats all that was left after about a 100 put in there the previous day.
I saw the snapper move exactly the same ay as always during hunting - slow, precize and unnoticed, like a cat.
It moved forward until eventually faced the fish cornered between the tanks wall and the snappers face. The turtle moved closer again, but not to close to scare the fish. At that time the turtle was positioned in the middle of the tanks width. Because of the waters low level, not being able to escape over the snappers body the gold fish had no other option but move to the right or left. And thats when a very interesting thing happened !

Once the fish would try to pass it on the right, the snapper would turn just a tiny bit its head that way and shake its front right leg !
Scared away the gold fish would swim in the oposite direction, and that was was the snapper waiting for. Strike !, and one's gone ! It managed also to get a little bit closer again, and once the fish would reach the left side, it would shake its left leg this time scaring the fish away to the right ! And again, strike ! Another fish gone.
It stopped moving forward now, positioned itself strategically, and all it did from now on was scaring away the fish from one side of the tank to the other, and grabbing one as soon as they would swimm by.
Then again same thing but in the opposite direction. Fish to the right - and the snapper shakes its right leg, fish to the left - it shakes its left leg, and so on, swallowing the gold fish one by one until none was left ! I could'nt believe it ! I've seen some side - necked turtles shaking their heads while hunting, but I've never thought of snappers doing something so refined. And it wasn't just a meaningless action ! It had a purpose, a very defined purpose ! I've always thought that the snapping turtles need nothing more except for the speed they posess, but obviously this is not the case.

I'm impressed. Hats off to the snappers !

More reading & related links:
 
        Basic snapping turtle info in one file - Introduction to snapping turtles.pdf (116 Kb)  

 


          
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