7 Turtles That Look Like Snapping Turtles

You’ve probably been warned to stay away from snapping turtles–these beastly reptiles can do some serious damage if they bite down on your fingers or arms. Have you ever been concerned that you might confuse a snapper with another, more harmless type of turtle? If so, read on to learn more about turtles that look like snapping turtles.

Turtles That Look Like Snapping Turtles

1. River Cooter Turtles

River cooters

River cooters are native to North America. Though they are primarily found in the eastern United States, they can also be found in some parts of the Pacific northwest.

Like snapping turtles, river cooters have shells that are flatter than many other types of turtle. Depending on their subspecies, they may have somewhat pale colors, and they are fairly large in size.

Despite these similarities, river cooters have characteristics that help set them apart from snapping turtles.

Most are generally darker than snappers, especially if you look at their head, neck, and limbs. These parts of their body are generally dark green to black with yellow stripes or patterns. 

2. Western Pond Turtles

Western pond turtles

Western pond turtles are found along the Pacific Coast of North America, from the northwestern United States to Baja California. 

In terms of physical characteristics, these turtles share many similarities with snapping turtles. They have relatively flat shells and long tails, limbs, and necks.

They also prefer to spend much of their time in and near water, like snapping turtles.

That said, western pond turtles are generally darker in color than snappers, and some of them have yellow patterns on their bodies. They are also smaller than snapping turtles, growing only to about 8 ½ inches at the largest.

3. False Map Turtles

False map turtles can be found in and around rivers of central and eastern regions of the United States.

These turtles share some characteristics with true map turtles, which often have ridged and brightly-patterned shells. That said, false map turtles are paler in color, and the segmenting of their shells can make them look quite similar to the alligator snapping turtle.

What’s more, false map turtles have long tails and limbs. Due to these physical features and their pale gray to tan coloring, they can be mistaken for both common and alligator snapping turtles.

False map turtles are sometimes called “sawbacks” because of the rigid spines running down the middle of their shells. This ridge of spines can be used to distinguish them from snapping turtles–common snapping turtles have smooth shells, and alligator snappers lack this distinctive ridge.

4. Snake-Necked Turtles

Snake-necked turtles

Snake-necked turtles are unique-looking reptiles native to Australia and parts of Asia. They share a few similarities with snapping turtles.

The most obvious of these similarities is their long neck. Snake neck turtles also have long limbs. 

Generally speaking, most snake-necked turtles have flat shells, though this is dependent on their species. Coloring and sizes vary by species as well. 

Snake-necked turtles are mostly aquatic, so they spend much of their time in the water.

Most of these turtles are more darkly-colored than snapping turtles. What’s more, you are unlikely to ever see them together, as snake-necked turtles live in much different parts of the world than snappers. 

Check out this video to learn more about snake-necked turtles:

5. Softshell Turtles

There are many species of softshell turtles found throughout the world. A few of these species, such as Florida and African softshells, can be mistaken for snapping turtles. 

Many softshell turtles are large, some nearly as large as snappers. They have flat shells, pale to dark colors, and long limbs. 

Softshell turtles are generally darker than snappers, and as the name suggests, they have softer shells. What’s more, their snout is distinctively pointed, giving their face a much different appearance from the toothed snouts of snappers.

6. Big-Headed Turtles

These interesting-looking reptiles can be found in parts of Asia. In terms of appearance, they may be the most similar to snapping turtles on this list.

Big-headed turtles, as you might guess, have large heads relative to their body size. Like snapping turtles, they are unable to pull their head into their shell. 

Big-headed turtles also have long, oversized limbs, long tails, and shells that are relatively flat. They also have hooked snouts that are similar to the snouts of snapping turtles. 

They also have similar dull colors as snappers. 

That said, big-headed turtles are smaller than snapping turtles, and they are not very good at swimming. They also live in a different part of the world, so you are unlikely to ever see them together in the same place.

7. Sea Turtles

There are various species of sea turtles that can be found throughout the world’s oceans. Some of them look similar to snapping turtles.

This is especially true of the flatback sea turtle, which is gray to tan in color and has a flat shell like snapping turtles do.

However, upon closer inspection, you will notice several differences. 

Sea turtles have flippers rather than arms and legs, making it easier for them to swim. They do not have hooked snouts as snappers do.

 What’s more, sea turtles live in saltwater environments, while snapping turtles tend to stick closer to areas of freshwater.


As you can see, there are a few other species of turtle in the world that look similar to snapping turtles. Some of these include big-headed turtles, softshell turtles, and false map turtles.

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