Monday, December 19, 2011

Pet snapping turtle turns 30 and weighs in at 42 pounds

Pet snapping turtle at 42 pounds
Tom Karnes took Sneaky home in a little paper cup in 1981. At the time, he could fit into the palm of Karnes hand, now, the turtle, who has been raised in captivity, weighs in at about 42 pounds.   Turtles raised in captivity can reach 40 or 45 years of age. Wild turtles sometimes can live even longer.

"He grows about 2 pounds each year now, and his shell grows about three-quarters of an inch," Karnes said.
Karnes said he's wanted a snapping turtle for a pet since he was a boy.

 Karnes said he handled the turtle all the time when he was younger, and the animal is not threatened by or afraid of humans.

Baby snapping turtle

 Each winter, Sneaky stops eating and hibernates until about April. During that time, Karnes said he usually loses about 4 pounds, only to put it right back on and then add a few during the summer months.

"He loves to eat shrimp. He can put away two pounds of shrimp like it's nothing," Karnes said. Sneaky also eats bluegill Karnes catches from a local pond.

In the summer months, Karnes often sets Sneaky out to play in the yard. A creek that flows alongside of Gee Hollow Road, by the Karnes home, is his favorite place to play.

Feeding isn't the only challenge in keeping a snapping turtle as a pet. Because Sneaky isn't wild, his toenails get long and have to be clipped. For the task, Karnes uses pruning shears. "I have to use them, just to get the leverage I need," Karnes said. "He's pretty good about it."

Karnes built Sneaky an insulated wet pond for hibernating, and he has a heat lamp to keep the water from getting too cold during the worst weeks of winter.

"He's pretty comfortable in there," Karnes said. "This spring, he'll be back out again and ready to eat.

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