How do you keep a snapping turtle from biting you?

How do you keep a snapping turtle from biting you? With a face-plunger of course.

I have held painted turtles before and its not difficult. Hold them gently and firmly on either side of their bodies, letting their legs and head be free. But a snapping turtle is another thing altogether.

They are large and they are strong. And they have a painful bite. Their bite cannot take your finger off or snap a broom handle, despite the myths, but it would hurt. Their beaks are made to cut their meals. Sharp and powerful.

So to pick up a snapping turtle to move it, one hand is at the base of the tail, where the tail meets the body, and the other hand is slipped underneath the carapace – from behind, with the turtle facing away from you.

And when you have a turtle that needs an injection of antibiotics, it works very well to gently but firmly place the face of the turtle in a clean animal-use-only toilet plunger. (Not a sink plunger. Sink plungers are often red, with an umbrella-like bell. Toilet plungers are often black and have the wide bell  and a narrower tube-like part that is at the bottom underneath the bell.)

Once the turtle’s strong beak and head is in the plunger, it can’t see and it can’t bite. But it can breathe just fine, and there is space between its head and the plunger. Clearly, this is just for a minute or two, and does not hurt the turtle. And this way, the people around it remain unharmed too.