Alligator Snapping Turtle

Alligator snapping turtle

Alligator Snapping Turtle…

Alligator snapping turtle
alligator snapping turtle. Photo: Garry Tucker USFWS cc2.0

This is the largest of the freshwater turtles, and also the possessor of an extremely strong bite force — apparently it can bite right through a broom handle! They are mostly meat-eaters, and they can survive on almost anything they catch: fish, frogs, snakes, aquatic plants, dead organisms or even other turtles. They can spend up to 40 minutes under water without air. Their shell is covered with algae, providing an effective camouflage.

This turtle is a lively hunter at night. It has a pinkish, worm-like part in its tongue — this is its fish bait. During the day it lies immobile at the bottom of the water, and use its special “tongue-tool” to attract prey. As soon as the prey enters its open mouth, the turtle will swallow it whole or slice it in two with its sharp jaws.

Alligator Snapping Turtle Hatchlings
Alligator Snapping Turtle Hatchlings. Photo: USFWS/Southeast cc2.0

The large adults do not have many enemies, but their eggs are food to birds, raccoons and large fish. They lay about eight to fifty-two eggs in nests on the ground, safely away from the water. The temperature of the nest affects the sex of the offspring. Medium temperatures develop males, while high and low temperatures produce females. Alligator snapping turtles are not very paternal, and the offspring survive alone soon after birth.

Alligator Snapping Turtles are featured in the following books:
25 River Monsters
101 Facts… Turtles!

The YouTube video playlist below contains videos about Alligator Snapping Turtles. Details of the videos featured are underneath.

The Playlist:

  1. Dangerous Encounters: Gator Snapper Bite Force by NatGeoWild
  2. Alligator Snapping Turtles by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
  3. Alligator Snapping Turtle Bites Researcher by mowildlife


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