Alligator Snapping Turtle

Alligator Snapping Turtle

Macroclemys temminckii

 

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Quick Facts
Length:
Weight:
15" - 26+"
35 to 250 lbs
Wild diet: Fish, turtles, clams, insects, plant material and dead animals
Zoo Diet: Whole fish
Distribution: Southwestern Georgia, northern Florida -east-central Texas, north Kansas, Mississippi Valley of Iowa and Illinois
Habitat: Muddy rivers and lakes

Look out! That's an alligator snapping turtle you're looking at. These turtles are known for their vicious bites. The alligator snapping turtle is mostly found in the southern United States and the Midwest. The turtles, that live in muddy rivers and lakes, love to walk on the bottom of rivers. The alligator snapping turtle has a unique worm-like tongue projection that lures fish near its mouth to catch and eat!

Description

The alligator snapping turtle has a dark gray, black or brown shell and a light-colored belly. Its shell and head are sometimes overgrown with algae. Its head is huge in relation to its body. Instead of teeth, the alligator snapping turtle has a strongly hooked, raptor-like beak. There is a prominent ridge on the turtle's shell. Its legs are short and muscular and it has long, webbed toes with strong claws; 5 clawss on the front and 4 claws on the rear. On the turtle's thick tail, the underpart has large, rounded scales. In addition to breathing through its lungs, the alligator snapping turtle can breathe through the skin of its throat and thin-walled sacs in the cloaca (genital/intestinal/urinary opening).

Status in the Wild

They are threatened by habitat loss and have been professionally trapped as alleged predators to fisheries. They are also hunted for their meat.

Conservation Programs
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