Alligator Snapping Turtle

The tongue of the alligator snapping turtle has a bright red, worm-shaped piece of flesh that draws curious fish or frogs close enough for the turtle to snatch. An alligator snapping turtle can stay submerged 40 to 50 minutes before surfacing for air. The only known predators of adult snappers are humans who capture them for their meat and shells, and to sell in the exotic animal trade.

Alligator Snapping Turtle

Macrochelys temminckii

Distribution: Rivers, canals, and lakes of the southeastern United States

Diet in the Wild: Fish, frogs, some vegetation and occasionally small mammals

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Fish and meat

Weight: Males can reach 249 lbs (113 kg), females can reach 62 lbs (28 kg)

Length: Males can reach 29 in (74 cm), females can reach 22 in (56 cm)

IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable, population trend unknown

Threats: Habitat alteration, exploitation by trappers

Interesting Facts:

The average lifespan for alligator snapping turtles in the wild is between 20 and 70, though they may live to be older in captivity.

The alligator snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in North America.

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