The Day I Was Stalked by a Giant Snapping Turtle
When I was a kid, there was a pond out in the country off M-52 between Stockbridge and Chelsea, where we used to go swimming.
The pond was surrounded by weeds and a few trees and bushes, out in a farm field. It had a homemade diving board, that had a huge coiled spring. There was also a man-made dock, which, over the years, had collapsed, so the end was submerged underwater, making the dock sit at a 45-degree angle. Anyone swimming would have to crawl up that slimy dock to dry land.
Now the scene is set. Here we come, about four of us kids, in our early-mid-teens, riding our bikes out to the pond. We strip down to our underwear and proceed to jump into the pond, one-by-one, off the diving board. Keep in mind, this was before underwear was made to fit snugly, and each time we jumped in, our shorts ended up around our ankles by the time we swam to the dock.
After about five minutes of this, I am again waiting my turn. The kid ahead of me jumps in, pops up, and swims to the dock and climbs up the slippery 45 degrees. I walk to the end of the diving board and look into the water, when I noticed a big cloud of dirt & mud coming up from the bottom. I figured the kid had hit bottom with his feet, causing the muck to stir. So I jump in.
I pop up, swim to the dock, and crawl up. Then I turned around. Coming up the dock after me was one of the biggest snapping turtles I had ever seen. “What the heck?” I said to the other guys. Then I realized I was darn lucky the snapper didn't reach me in time...remember, our shorts always ended up around our ankles. I could've ended up singing soprano, if you catch my drift.
Michigan indeed has a good share of snappers and they are not to be messed with, unless you know what you're doing. The most common is the Chelydra Serpentine, the largest turtle species in Michigan. From the end of May to June, it's their mating season...so when you see these guys bumbling their way along the creek, in your yard, or down the road, leave 'em alone. They're on a mission.
Snappers have powerful jaws and will not let go if they happen to get ahold of you. Snappers don't care who or what you are. They grab and eat just about anything they can handle: baby ducks & geese, crawdads, fish, frogs, little muskrats, snakes, toads, and smaller turtles.
Snappers can grow to be monsters, sometimes 50 pounds or more. So far, the alligator snapper is NOT found in Michigan, but give it time. This is one mean turtle, with jaws that will crush your bones if given the chance, as you will see in the photos (and video) below.
So next time you're tempted to wade into a non-public lake or stream, or venturing around shorelines that are thick with vegetation, you need to keep a sharp eye...and don't skinny dip. You don't wanna lose an important appendage to a snapper.
Oakland County Blog