These fearsome looking reptiles are actually incredible animals! They live in freshwater, usually ponds or lakes, here in the Midwest and as far south as Florida and they are native to North America. They grow as they age so the larger the turtle the older it is with some male turtles weighing in at more than 25 lbs. The females weigh a little less in comparison. The Common Snapping turtle is one of the largest turtles and has somewhat of a fierce reputation.
In most cases though, especially when in the water, snapping turtles prefer to avoid confrontation and will simply swim away quietly. When a snapper is confronted and cann't escape, they hiss at their attacker and will snap their jaws as a warning. If their attacker is silly enough to get within range of a snapping turtles head (which they can extend and twist), the bite can be exceptionally damaging and they often do not relinquish the bite for quite some time. If you see a snapping turtle, leave it alone. If you need to move one out of the road, use a shovel to gently slide under it to move it. It is possible to pick a snapping turtle up by the back of it's shell and not get bitten but due to their very long neck and wide area of reach, it's tricky. You can also cover the with a blanket or towel to move them. Their claws are daunting when confronting these reptiles but they are only for locomotion and digging and not used in defense. Although a swipe from one of them could certainty be painful.
Snapping turtles are omnivores so they will eat just about anything around them. They spend most of their lives in water, burrowing into muck and algae mats below the surface and rising only to breath. Interestingly, when snappers live in water that ices over for months, they do not breath air. They are able to stir up the bottom on the pond and release gasses which they can process into air using the lining of their mouth and throat. As they grow larger, they have few is any natural predators due to their formidable defenses. The females will travel miles over land to find a place to lay their eggs in June or July and this is often where they encounter people. If you encounter one, respect their space and let them carry on.