Status, distribution, and nesting ecology of Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada


  • Terry Power NS Dept. of Natural Resources
  • John Gilhen



Snapping Turtle, Chelydra serpentina, status, distribution, nesting ecology, clutch size, hatching success, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada


Based on current knowledge of the ecology and distribution of Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina), both in eastern Canada and elsewhere, we conclude this species is native to Cape Breton Island. Seventy-two reports of Snapping Turtle from Cape Breton (1999–2017) indicate a range centred in the area south of Bras d’Or Lake. Date of oviposition ranged from 19 June to 10 July (median = 26 June) among 26 nests observed during 2012–2014. Clutch size for these nests was 23–65 eggs (mean = 46) and among 25 protected nests average rate of hatchling emergence was 21.5%. Time from oviposition to emergence of hatchlings (n = 256) was 75–120 days (mean = 87.2; SD = 9.0) among 20 nests. First emergence ranged from 9 September to 20 October (75–114 nest days; mean = 90) and last emergence ranged from 13 September to 28 October (86–120 nest days; mean = 100). Duration of emergence ranged from one day (i.e., synchronous emergence; five nests) to 37 days (mean = 11 days). The number of days on which hatchlings emerged at a nest ranged from one to nine days (mean = 4 days). Maximum carapace length was 25.0–31.8 mm (mean = 29.0 mm) and maximum carapace width was 23.5–30.0 mm (mean = 27.0 mm) for 256 hatchlings that emerged from 20 protected nests. Mass of hatchlings was 4.9–9.9 g (mean = 7.8 g).

Author Biography

Terry Power, NS Dept. of Natural Resources

Regional Wildlife Biologist

NS Dept. of Natural Resources