Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Alligator Snapping Turtle

Macrochelys temminckii is the largest freshwater turtle species in the entire world. They live in the Southeastern United States and can reach weights of 80kg (about 175lbs). Weights of over 200lbs have also been found, and an unverified report of a 403lb monster exists from the 1930s.

Image from Wikimedia Commons
Alligator Snapping Turtles spend nearly all of their time in the water. As juveniles they stick to small streams,  and as adults live in deep river and lake areas. They are able to remain underwater for 40 to 50 minutes before needing to surface for air. Females of the species are usually the only ones who go to land, and they do so in order to lay their eggs. This trek usually takes them around 150ft inland, where up to 50 eggs are laid. The sex of the hatchlings is determined by the incubation temperature. Extreme temperatures create females, while moderate temperatures create males.

Not only are Alligator Snapping Turtles large, they are also long lived. While ranges of 20 to 70 years are normal, it is possible for them to live to age 100.They are distinguished by their large sizes, huge, powerful jaws, and ridged carapace that consists of three rows of spines.

The tongue of an Alligator Snapping Turtle has a quite ingenious way of luring in prey. It has a red piece of skin that resembles a worm. Fish and frogs, which make up most of the Turtles' diet, are drawn to this lure and are then captures in the Turtles' powerful, beak-like jaws. Alligator Snapping Turtles will also eat insects, small mammals and even other turtles! Basically, if it fits in their jaws, they eat it.

Thanks to John for the suggestion!

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