Snapping turtles frequently exceed a foot in carapace length with weights to 42 pounds. The record weights are 62 pounds in the wild and 86 pounds in captivity. The broad, flat carapace has sides that are more or less parallel. The front and side margins are smooth with the rear margin being coarsely serrated. The shell of the young is very rough and becomes smooth with age. The head is large, flat, and triangular when seen from above. The mouth is very large, with jaw surfaces that are adapted for simple cutting. The neck is long. The bases of all four legs are extremely muscular, and the feet are webbed with long, thick claws. The carapace is brown and the plastron is yellow. The limbs are a drab gray-brown. Often a vague light area is found behind the eyes, and the jaws are marked with vertical dark streaks.