It is uncertain exactly how long snapping turtles can live,
but they can reach 30 years or so in the wild.
In captivity their lifespan seems to lengthen and it is believed they can
reach 45 or 50 years.
The record seems to belong to a specimen kept at the Philadelphia ZOO until its
death at 38 years, 8 months and 27 days (1979, Pritchard, Encyclopedia of turtles).
For certain, regular feedings and good maintenance prolong the lives of any kind of
turtles or tortoises.
On the other hand, life of many snapping turtles in the wild is very short.
They are very vulnerable as hatchlings, and are preyed upon by all kinds
of predators such as birds, ferrets, cats, dogs, other turtles etc.
The main predator of an adult snapper is humans.
Turtle meat, considered a delicacy in many parts of the world,
is in great demand. For this reason large snappers are hunted
for meat in the wild. Fortunately, there are now a number of farms
raising snappers commercially for food and their shells.
Also, because of their appetite and the belief they contribute to the decline of local
fish stocks in some areas, a number of snapping turtles are killed every year
by anglers who consider them nothing more then pests.
Sometimes, for not a well trained eye and having the same name ( it is in fact difficult
to identify a turtle species looking from a distance at an animal in a murky water and
covered with, sometimes quite large in wild turtles, amounts of " moss " on their
backs ), the alligator snapping turtle is taken as a common snapper, and the other way around.
They both, close relatives, belong to the same family, yet their shells and bodies are quite
different. The main difference, not easy to discover it unless the animal opens its jaws,
is the presence of a fleshy pink worm - like body at the bottom of the alligator snapping turtles
I have seen quite few pages on the Net mixing up the two species, mostly with the common snapper
being given the description of an alligator snapper.( sometimes the text, given information
and the turtles picture don't match )
As a result of this, some estimations of a turtles age or size given by people
might not be correct at times. Not that the people are doing it out of ignorance,
but simply in many areas the terms " snapping turtle " or " snapper " mean and are
identified with the alligator snapping turtle only.
What might be true to the alligator snapping turtles is not the truth for the common snappers,
and vice versa.
The alligator snappers grow much much larger than the common snappers and live much longer
lives. Considering their slow pace of growing at very large sizes, around 200 lb., their
age probably exceedes 100 years.