How To Clean A Snapping Turtle?

Video how to clean snapping turtle

Cleaning a snapping turtle can be a challenging but necessary task if you plan to use the turtle as food or for other purposes. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to clean a snapping turtle:

1. Prepare your tools and workspace: Gather the necessary tools such as a sharp knife, a cutting board, a pair of pliers, gloves, and a bucket. Find a clean and spacious area to work in, preferably outdoors.

2. Secure the turtle: It is important to handle snapping turtles with caution as they have sharp jaws and can bite forcefully. Use heavy-duty gloves and grip the shell firmly to prevent any accidents.

3. Stun the turtle: To immobilize the turtle, hit it firmly on the back of its head with a heavy object like a blunt stick or a hammer. Ensure the turtle is completely unconscious before proceeding.

4. Bleed the turtle: Once the turtle is stunned, hold it upside down over a bucket to collect the blood. Cut the turtle’s throat horizontally using a sharp knife, allowing the blood to drain completely.

5. Remove the head and tail: Cut off the head and tail of the turtle completely, using a sharp knife. Be extremely careful during this step as the turtle’s jaws may still have some reflexive movements.

6. Shell removal: Make an incision along the bottom of the shell from the tail to the neck, being cautious not to pierce any organs. Use pliers to gradually peel away the shell, loosening it from the body.

7. Gutting and cleaning: Open the turtle and remove the internal organs, including the heart, liver, lungs, and intestines. Rinse the body cavity thoroughly with clean water, ensuring all traces of blood and internal organs are removed.

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8. Final cleaning and storage: Rinse the cleaned turtle under running water, removing any remaining debris or blood. Pat the turtle dry with a clean cloth, and store it in a plastic bag or airtight container in the refrigerator until ready for use.


1. Can I use a snapping turtle as food? Yes, snapping turtles are edible, and they are commonly used for culinary purposes in many regions. However, be sure to adhere to local regulations and guidelines.

2. How do I safely handle a snapping turtle? Always wear heavy-duty gloves and handle the turtle by the shell or the base of the tail. Avoid getting your fingers near the turtle’s head or mouth to prevent any injuries.

3. What should I do if I accidentally get bitten by a snapping turtle? If you are bitten, seek medical attention immediately. Snapping turtle bites can cause serious injuries due to their strong jaws and sharp beaks.

4. Can I clean a snapping turtle without stunning it? It is highly recommended to stun the snapping turtle before attempting to clean it. This ensures the turtle is unconscious and minimizes any risk of injury during the cleaning process.

5. Are there any specific tools I need to clean a snapping turtle? A sharp knife, pliers, gloves, a cutting board, and a bucket are the essential tools needed for cleaning a snapping turtle. Ensure all tools are clean and in good condition before starting.

6. How should I dispose of the discarded parts of the turtle? Check local regulations for proper disposal methods. In many cases, it is best to bury the discarded parts or dispose of them at a waste disposal facility.

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7. Are snapping turtles endangered? While some species of snapping turtles are considered endangered or threatened, others are not. It is important to know the specific species and local conservation status before hunting or cleaning a snapping turtle.

BOTTOM LINE: Cleaning a snapping turtle requires caution, the right tools, and proper technique. Make sure to stun the turtle, bleed it, remove the head and tail, as well as the shell, before gutting and cleaning. Always follow local regulations and guidelines when using snapping turtles for food or other purposes.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>