Meet the star of Schramm Education Center.
By Renae Blum
Meet the star of Schramm Education Center’s aquarium, Big Snap Daddy. Weighing 98 pounds, he is considered the world’s largest common snapping turtle. He is also estimated to be over 90 years old. In the wild, common snapping turtles live an average of 30 years and grow to be about 35 pounds.
Learn more about this remarkable creature from Schramm Park superintendent and aquarium director Tony Korth.
How did Big Snap come to be at Schramm?
An angler caught him from the Missouri River near Peru, Nebraska. The angler originally planned to eat him but decided that because the turtle was so large, he wanted to share him and let other people see him. He was 47 pounds when he was donated to us for display.
How long has he been at the Schramm aquarium?
Big Snap has been with us since the mid-1990s. We celebrate his hatch day in September every year. Because Nebraska snapping turtles typically hatch between August and October, we are estimating he hatched during that time.
How did you measure his age?
Dr. Dennis Ferraro, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln herpetologist, was able to estimate his age by looking at his carapace, his caudal and tomia wear, as well as his size at capture.
What does Big Snap eat?
He is fed several times a week, and he gets fish and raw meat. Roadkill deer seems to be his favorite. Common snapping turtles are omnivores, so they’ll eat whatever they can, including plants, meat and carrion.
How do you feed him?
We have a long set of tongs that allow us to drop his food in front of him safely.
How do you design a living space that’s appropriate for a turtle like him?
Good lighting and good water quality is a must for keeping any turtle. The tank has an excellent filtration system, and we remove any uneaten food as soon as possible to keep the water clean. Although he is not normally very active, we like to have plenty of space for him. The aquarium that Big Snap calls home is 600 gallons. We also built him a ledge that he seems to enjoy hanging out under.
Is he kept with other species?
We do have goldfish in the tank with him, and they clean up after him. They pick algae off his shell, and they eat some of the small bits of food that he won’t eat. They all seem to get along together quite well.
What’s his personality like?
He is still as aggressive as the day we received him, so we must be extra careful with him if we’re feeding him or if we need to be in the tank with him for cleaning.
He’s probably my favorite animal, mostly because of our history together — I’ve worked here over 30 years, and he’s been with us almost all of that time — and because he is so impressive in size.
Schramm Education Center is located at 21502 West Highway 31 in Gretna and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Learn more at OutdoorNebraska.gov.