Facts about alligator snapping turtle

18 alligator snapping turtle facts

Macrochelys temminckii

The alligator snapping turtle is one of the most memorable turtle species because of its intriguing look. They can be found in North and Central America, primarily in southeastern parts of the U.S. Apart from their primal look, which makes them resemble dinosaurs, they use a very particular hunting technique.

Alligator snapping turtle
The alligator snapping turtle belongs to the family Chelydridae.
There are two species of snapping turtles: alligator snapping turtle, and common snapping turtle.
It is native to the United States.
It is primarily found in southeastern parts of the U.S. in freshwaters flowing into the Gulf of Mexico.
The alligator snapping turtle is the largest freshwater species found in North America.
It is easily distinguished from the common snapping turtle by three spiky ridges on its carapace, and a large, heavy, triangle-shaped head.
Its carapace is typically dark brown, green, black, or gray.
It is common for the alligator snapping turtle to be covered in a carpet of algae, which adds to its camouflage.
Its face resembles prehistoric creatures, namely dinosaurs.
They can reach up to 80 kg in weight and around 75 centimeters in length.
Their average lifespan ranges from 20 to 70 years in captivity.
In the wild, alligator snapping turtles are able to live for as long as 200 years, an average of 100.
They need to resurface every 45-50 minutes to breathe.
Its jaws have a bite force of approximately 455 kg, so can easily go through bones.
It is crucial to handle them with care, since a careless encounter may result in amputation.
It is a carnivore and a scavenger.
Mainly, it feeds on fish and amphibians, but also mollusks and carrion.
The alligator snapping turtle has an interesting hunting technique.
While remaining still, it points out its red, worm-like tongue appendage to lure potential prey, and once it is within a striking distance, the turtle snaps its jaws abruptly.
The alligator snapping turtle reaches sexual maturity at approximately 12 years of age.
The mating occurs in spring.
Depending on their habitat, it may be either the beginning of the season or the end of it.
Females lay a clutch of 10 to 50 eggs on a nesting ground.
The incubation lasts for 3,5 to 5 months. Hatchling sex depends on the temperature of the developing eggs. Typically, the hatchling will be male if the incubation temperature is below 27,2 degrees Celsius, and female if the temperature is above 31 degrees Celsius. It is a common trait among turtles, crocodiles, and alligators, and is called temperature-dependent sex determination.
Eggs are easy prey for raccoons and birds.
It is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.
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