Preferences of small snapping turtles were determined by the relative number of locations in each of several experimental habitats. Nine juvenile turtles in one test showed some preference for a sand rather than a gravel substrate, but these results were not replicable in a second test with 8 of these turtles. There was no significant relationship between substrate preference and water temperature. Juvenile turtles preferred obstructed pool areas to open areas during darkness, whereas recently hatched turtles preferred obstructed pool areas to open areas during light and darkness. These experimental habitat preferences resemble field observations of snapping turtles. Mud substrates likely provide advantages similar to those provided in obstructed areas: concealment, enhanced protection, and locations from which to obtain food. The snapping turtle may be opportunistic in selecting aquatic habitats, provided that some cover is available.
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