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Proving of Chelydra serpentina, Snapping Turtle

Remedy Abbreviation: chely-sp-o


Eric Sommermann, PhD, CCH, RSHom (NA)


10-15 snapping turtle eggs from Northern Minnesota; provided by Alex Lanning (alumnus).


Teresa Stewart and other volunteers. Themework by Lori Foley and Sandra Haering.


Sixteen provers took the remedy administered in 6C, 12C, and 30C potencies. The proving was double blind format in which neither the supervisors nor the provers were aware of the substance they were taking. During the proving, provers logged symptoms on a daily basis and were in daily contact with their supervisor until symptoms subsided.



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Articles and Other Printable References

This article was originally published in the American Homeopath Journal and appear by permission of the North American Society of Homeopaths.

The American Homeopath Journal

By Jason-Aeric Huenecke
Vol 14, 2008
Page 101

Access Chelydra serpentina Theme Document (PDF) (27 pages)

Access Chelydra serpentina Entire Proving Journal (PDF) (37 pages)

Access Chelydra serpentina Repertory Listing Detail (PDF)

Ovum Chelydra serpentina Proving American Homeopath Journal Article (Snapping Turtle)


KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
SUBPHYLUM: Vertebrata
ORDER: Testudines
SPECIES: Chelydra


Chelydra serpentina, The Snapping Turtle
Breeding and Biology
Physical Characteristics
Geographic Range and Habitat
Food Habits
Aesop’s Fables: The Tortoise and the Hare
Aesop’s Fables - The Tortoise and the Eagle


Ovum is Latin for egg; chelys, from the Greek for turtle; hydros meaning a water serpent; serpentina is Latin for snake-like.


Every aspect of the common snapping turtle’s (Ovum chelydra serpentina) life is full of aggression, including their breeding instinct.

Triggered by temperature changes from winter into spring, the snapper is quite prolific:

“Mating takes place from April to November. In the mating process, the male positions himself on top of the female's shell by grasping the shell with his claws. He then curves his tail until his vent contacts the female's vent. Fertilization takes place at this time. After the eggs have developed sufficiently in the female, she excavates a hole, normally in sandy soil, and lays as many as 83 eggs. The eggs take 9 to 18 weeks to hatch depending on the weather. Interestingly, female snapping turtles sometimes store sperm for several years. Sperm storage allows individuals to mate at any time of the year independent of female ovulation, and it also allows females to lay eggs every season without needing to mate.” [1]

Snappers live 30 years in the wild and nearly 50 years in captivity, although snapping turtles in captivity have a tendency toward obesity.


Turtles, which have been around for over 200 million years, are classified by their shells.

There are four families of snapping turtles, the Common Snapping Turtle, Chelydra serpentina, classified by Linnaeus in 1758; the Florida Snapping Turtle, Chelydra serpentina osceola, classified by Stejneger in 1818; the South American Snapping Turtle (found in Ecuador), Chelydra serpentina acutirostris, classified by Peters in 1862; and the Mexican Snapping Turtle, Chelydra serpentina rossignoni, classified by Boucourt in 1868. 4



The snapping turtles’ shells can grow from 8 inches up to 19 inches in length, and consist of bony plates covered by horny scales. They weigh from 8 to 35 lbs. They look rugged, muscular, and prehistoric. The shells are usually dark and have ridges, although these ridges diminish as the animal ages. They are heavily serrated on the rear, and scutes(scales) may have a pattern of radiating lines. The plastron is tan or yellow. Covered with algae or plantlike growths, the snapping turtles’ shells range in color from dark green to black, allowing them to blend into their habitat easily.

Snapping Turtles have large heads which cannot be withdrawn into the small shell. They have no teeth; instead they have a hook on the upper jaw that resembles a beak. They rely on their strong jaws for defense and can bite hard if disturbed. Their necks can lengthen across half of their shell, thus making the snapper very dangerous to human digits.

The legs are large with webbed toes and heavy claws. The tail is longer than half the length of the carapace. Male snappers’ tails are usually longer than females, an example of sexual dimorphism. The skin is gray, black, yellow, or tan, with tubercles on the neck. White flecks occur on some individuals.

There is an interesting side note about the plant remedy, Chelone Glabra (commonly known as turtle-head) of the Scrofulariaceae family. J.H. Clarke has listed the rubric: "Soreness of external parts, as if the skin were off, especially about elbow." Considering the vulnerability of the snapping turtle’s head and limbs, this comes as no surprise.


Snapping turtles live in North America, Central America, and South America, from southern Canada to Ecuador. These turtles typically live in vegetation-filled wetlands, marshes, in rivers and streams, and swamps; or shallow, calm or brackish waters with muddy bottoms. They prefer water bodies with muddy bottoms and abundant vegetation because concealment is easier. Most make their homes in freshwater areas, but some live quite well in somewhat salty waters. They are excellent swimmers. They also hibernate through long winters in northern climes. 



Snapping turtles are active most of the year, becoming dormant in areas with cold winters, generally in late October. They remain dormant either burrowed into the mud bottom, or under overhanging banks, root snags, stumps, brush, logs, or other debris. Large groups have been found hibernating together, sometimes with other turtle species. They emerge sometime between March to May, depending on the climate.

The cold-blooded tendency of the turtle can be seen in its bodily changes during hibernation:

“Scientists have found that the blood of hibernating turtles actually changes to function like antifreeze used in car radiators. As a result, the turtle's body temperature can drop to only a few degrees above freezing, which is much lower than that of most animals that hibernate.” [2]



Snapping turtles are not social creatures. Social interactions are limited to aggressive interactions between individuals, usually males. Many individuals can be found within a small range; population density is normally related to the amount of available food. Snapping turtles can be very vicious when removed from the water, but they become docile when placed back into the water.

Snapping turtles are sometimes seen basking on or under the surface in shallow water. They also like to bury themselves in mud with only their nostrils and eyes exposed. This burying behavior is used as a means of ambushing prey. However, it is the adults that tend to lie in ambush, while young turtles tend to forage actively. Snapping turtles have a small growth on the front of their tongues that resembles a wriggling worm. To capture fish, the snapping turtle opens its mouth to make the "worm" visible. When a fish comes to investigate the lure, the snapping turtle grabs it with its strong jaws.



Snapping turtles are omnivores meaning they eat everything available to them including insects, eggs of all kinds, small mammals, fish, amphibians and reptiles, mollusks, ducklings, goslings, adult ducks and geese and carrion; as well as vegetation of all sorts including algae. Turtles that eat flesh have hooked shaped beaks similar to those of raptors; they easily slice and tear food and enemies apart.

Common Snapping Turtles can sniff out carrion (dead animals), which they add to their diet of plants, small birds and fish. They are so fearless and aggressive that on occasion, they have been known to attack swimmers. Because of their unique ability to detect dead and rotting flesh, Common Snapping Turtles have been used to help police search for human corpses!

Since the Alligator Snapping Turtle lives mainly on fish, it is slaughtered by fishermen and is now on the endangered list.



Snapping turtle’s predators include humans for their meat; their eggs and hatchlings are preyed upon by alligators (Alligator mississipiensis); great blue herons (Ardea herodias); magpies (Corvidae); crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos), and ravens (Corvus corax); Opossum (Didelphis virginiana); gulls (Larus); striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis); largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides); northern water snakes (Nerodia sipedon); raccoons (Procyon lotor); bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana); and red foxes (Vulpes). Few animals manage to prey on them once they reach maturity; they are pugnacious and ferocious, defending their lives aggressively with the slightest provocation.



Humans commonly eat snapping turtle meat. Native Americans commonly used snapping turtle shells in many ceremonies: The shells were dried and mounted on handles with corn kernels inside for use as rattles.



“In the beginning there was only one water and the water animals that lived in it. Then a woman fell from a torn place in the sky. She was a divine woman, full of power. Two loons flying over the water saw her falling. They flew under her, close together, making a pillow for her to sit on. The loons held her up and cried for help. They could be heard for a long way as they called for other animals to come. The snapping turtle called all the other animals to aid in saving the divine woman's life. The animals decided the woman needed earth to live on. Snapping turtle said, ‘Dive down in the water and bring up some earth.’ So they did….” [3]

Remedy Source Information was gathered from the author’s personal experience/knowledge and the following references:

Bosch, Adam. 2003. "Chelydra serpentina" Animal Diversity Web. [Online] Available:
Graham, Donna. 1997. Snapping turtle fact sheet. South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, Division of Wildlife, Pierre, SD. [Online] Available:
Morgana’s Observatory: Creation Myths. 1997-2006. [Online] Available:

There once was a speedy hare who bragged about how fast he could run. Tired of hearing him boast, Slow and Steady, the tortoise, challenged him to a race. All the animals in the forest gathered to watch.

Hare ran down the road for a while and then and paused to rest. He looked back at Slow and Steady and cried out, "How do you expect to win this race when you are walking along at your slow, slow pace?"

Hare stretched himself out alongside the road and fell asleep, thinking, "There is plenty of time to relax."

Slow and Steady walked and walked. He never, ever stopped until he came to the finish line.

The animals who were watching cheered so loudly for Tortoise, they woke up Hare. Hare stretched and yawned and began to run again, but it was too late. Tortoise was over the line.

After that, Hare always reminded himself, "Don't brag about your lightning pace, for Slow and Steady won the race!"

CS.Pic.TortEagleThe Tortoise and the Eagle, Aesop Fables

A TORTOISE, lazily basking in the sun, complained to the sea-birds of her hard fate, that no one would teach her to fly. An Eagle, hovering near, heard her lamentation and demanded what reward she would give him if he would take her aloft and float her in the air. "I will give you," she said, "all the riches of the Red Sea." "I will teach you to fly then," said the Eagle; and taking her up in his talons he carried her almost to the clouds suddenly he let her go, and she fell on a lofty mountain, dashing her shell to pieces. The Tortoise exclaimed in the moment of death: "I have deserved my present fate; for what had I to do with wings and clouds, who can with difficulty move about on the earth?'

If men had all they wished, they would be often ruined.

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