Snapping Turtles are large and fearsome looking reptiles. However, these animals will not attack swimmers or bathers. Humans are too large to be considered a food source to these turtles.
Furthermore, snappers are completely at home in the water. As such, they feel safe and secure in this environment and therefore do not act aggressively.
If stepped on underwater the turtle will merely withdraw its head, and if encountered too close by a swimmer the turtle will flee the area or try to burrow into the soft sediment of ponds or marshes. Snapping turtles maybe defensive on land. This is due to the fact that these turtles have a small ventral shell. This is known as the plastron. As this small cross-section does not provide the adequate protection that many other turtles receive, snapping turtles will defend themselves if threatened. However, even on land snapping turtles are harmless if left alone.
Despite the misinformation, snapping turtles are also not detrimental to fish or waterfowl populations. These reptiles are largely scavengers. They provide a benefit by removing carrion from Eco-systems and aquatic habitats. When they do actively hunt they largely prey upon sick, injured, or dying individuals as these are easier prey. By removing sick and injured animals, snapping turtles help keep populations, like fish stocks healthy.
Furthermore, healthy game fish and waterfowl can usually out swim and out maneuver a large snapping turtle.
Unfortunately, many snapping turtles are killed due to fear and a lack of understanding. Other snapping turtles are killed for sport or for their meat. Snapping turtles are declining throughout much of their natural range.
Due to their usefulness in Eco-systems and their inoffensive nature, snapping turtles should never be killed or removed from the wild.