The Legend of the Giant Snapping Turtle

I’ve long heard stories about a giant snapping turtle that lives in the Duck Pond. Comes now a post on flickr showing what purports to be an image of our Nessie (Fordie?):

According to the poster (a former employee of Special Collections), that white square floating in the water is a cube of shredded wheat…which is probably about an inch long…which would make the head of the guy who’s about to eat it some 9″ long…such that the whole beast is probably bigger than the lid of a trashcan.

Here’s another shot, with geese for comparison. Yikes.


  1. My girlfriend (Jen Paroulek ’07) and I were walking along the pond to feed the ducks. She thought that there was a face looking at us from the water. I of course thought it was just a rock, and was shocked when the snapping turtle’s head poked out further. We were able to feed it some food – but it tends not to like the other water creatures much. We saw it snap at the geese several times. I’m glad that someone got a nice picture of it! It is huge and can usually be found back behind the duck pond among the water vegetation (where I had previously seen it once before). Thansk for keeping the blogging up to date!

  2. I too saw this giant pond creature. Yesterday 9/15/13 it was lurking on the side facing Lancaster Ave as my family was feeding the ducks and geese. It wanted a piece of the bread crumb action and lunged at nearby competition several times in order to clear a space for it’s enormous body! It hovered just below the surface only peeking it’s head out a few times. We could see it’s shell and estimate it at 3′ long by a foot and a half if it was an inch! It was like a mini gator the way it hid itself waiting for a chance. Everyone was blown away, a true treasure of Haverford College!

  3. Been legends of a GIANT common snapper in MN near Detroit Lakes – 4′ or more across the back. Been hearing this legend for 35+ years – occasionally new anecdotes. Today I talked to a man who said he has seen it 3-4 times in the last 3 yrs. Also heard of a man who has a picture – will try to obtain.

    It all makes a weird kind of sense with info from the Smithsonian a few years ago, indicating that they were studying the fact that turtles don’t age – their bodies don’t break down and become weak after a certain age or range of ages. Haven’t followed up on the research, but I will.


  4. Hey there, just came across this blog. I am very confident the turtle was mine. I found a baby snapping turtle in about 2004, took care of it for about 3 years, and released it in the haverford pond sometime in 2007 when it got too big to house, and when i was headed to college. The turtle almost looked like an alligator snapping turtle, as it had large spike-like ridges on its back and a very spikey long tail. Was about a foot and a half in length when i left it at havordford back in ’07. Hoping its the same turtle! Stay away if it is, itll bite your hand off!

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