How to Clean a Snapping Turtle | Step by Step Instructions

With the growing awareness that some turtle species are classified as endangered, more people are becoming inspired to take care of turtles. Whether it’s to simply have a pet turtle or as a breeder, proper care also means that your turtle remains clean to stay comfortable.

But let’s be honest, cleaning a turtle can be quite tricky. This is especially true for more aggressive species like the snapping turtle. But while it may be tricky, it’s actually possible to do.

So if you need guidance in this aspect, read on as we teach you how to clean a snapping turtle.

How To Clean a Snapping Turtle

What You Need to Clean a Snapping Turtle

To keep you from running back and forth around the house, make sure to gather all the tools you need in cleaning the snapping turtle. Here are the items you need for this tutorial:

  • A basin where you can clean a snapping turtle. Make sure that it is big enough to fit the turtle in, taking note of how big he will grow eventually.
  • A soft-bristled toothbrush. Snapping turtles are prone to having algae growth and dry skin buildup over their shell, belly, and limbs. To ensure that they are properly cleaned, using a soft-bristled toothbrush will do the trick without hurting them.
  • Warm water. The amount of water you need depends on how large the snapping turtle is.
  • A hose or a pitcher. This will help you rinse the brushed-off debris from the turtle.

Step 1: Prepare the Basin

Once you’ve gathered all your material, we can now proceed with this tutorial.

We start by pouring water onto the basin. You can fill it up to the point where the turtle will be about 50% submerged to make sure that he is still hydrated.

The reason why it’s recommended to clean a snapping turtle in a separate basin is that they are prone to carry bacteria that can be harmful to humans. Thus, cleaning them in your kitchen is not the most hygienic option. It will also lead you to a higher risk of exposure to these bacteria.

Step 2: Place the Snapping Turtle in the Basin

With the basin ready, you can now take the snapping turtle out of his aquarium and transfer him to the basin.

If your snapping turtle is not yet familiar with you, he will have an aggressive bout during this transfer. As much as possible, hold him from the sides of his shell so he couldn’t reach your finger during his snapping episodes.

Allow him to swim for a while in the basin so he wouldn’t feel too stressed out and aggressive as you clean him later on. In the meantime, you can also clean his aquarium as you wait for him to calm down.

Step 3: Start Scrubbing the Shell

With the snapping turtle settled down, you can now proceed to the next step. With the soft-bristled toothbrush, gently scrub the turtle’s shell without taking him out of the water first. This will serve as a test to see how aggressive he will be as you clean him. This step will be able to scrub away algae from his shell.

If you notice that he is not as hostile, you can carefully pick him up and scrub his shell more thoroughly. Snapping turtles tend to have more defined textures on their back, which makes them prone to algal growth and dead skin build-up. This can be stressful to him, so it’s best to make sure that you give him a thorough scrubbing.

But even then, don’t scrub too harshly. Scrubbing aggressively will not only agitate your snapping turtle, but it will also hurt him. As much as possible, use gentle strokes to get rid of the debris.

We must also note that you do not need any special soap in cleaning a snapping turtle. Brushing them would suffice.

Step 4: Scrub the Belly

Once you’re done cleaning the shell, you simply repeat the process and brush his belly clean. Use the same gentle strokes to make sure that he won’t get hurt. Again, make sure that he will not be agitated so he wouldn’t snap at you.

If you have a medium-sized snapping turtle, we also suggest brushing his limbs lightly just to get some of the stuck algae and dead skin. But if you have smaller snapping turtles, it’s best to skip this step since it will be trickier to work around small limbs.

After all, snapping turtles instinctively clean themselves when they feel dirty, and these limbs are easier for them to reach compared to their shells and bellies.

Step 5: Rinse

Once you’re satisfied with the results, you can now rinse the snapping turtle. If you have access to a nearby hose, simply run the turtle clean with water to rinse off the debris that you have brushed off. If you don’t have a hose nearby, you can do so by pouring warm water from a pitcher.

And that’s it – you now know how to clean a snapping turtle. Don’t forget to clean them regularly to keep them feeling comfortable all the time.

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