Alligator Snapping Turtle is one of the heaviest freshwater turtles in the world. Found in the United States, the turtle is named for its uniquely strong jaws, spring-like neck and its shell akin to the skin of an alligator. Here are some amazing facts about the alligator snapping turtle.
Common Name: Alligator Snapping Turtle
Scientific Name: Macrochelys temminckii
Lifespan In The Wild: 20 to 70 years
Size: 26 in
Weight: 220 lbs
The overrated powerful bite
The bite of the alligator snapping turtle is perhaps overrated. In fact, a human bite from molars is more powerful than an alligator snapping turtle’s bite. Their bite exerts a force of 209 N, while a human bite exerts a force of 1300 N.
But, one must still beware of its bite. Alligator snapping turtle has really sharp teeth that can chop off wood and hard skinned pineapples. And when it comes to human fingers, a bite from a snapping turtle can easily snap it in two parts.
There are three species of snapping turtle
There are three turtles in the family of snapping turtles. The other two are – the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle (Scientific name -Macrochelys suwanniensis) and the Apalachicola alligator snapping turtle (Scientific name -Macrochelys apalachicolae). The Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is named after the river its found -the Suwannee River. The Apalachicola alligator turtle lives in the Apalachicola River.
The largest freshwater turtle in the world
Alligator snapping turtle weigh between 8.4 kg to 80 kg and measure lengthwise between 35 cm to 80 cm. Some exceptionally large alligator snapping turtles can also weigh as much as 183 kg.
They can hold their breath for approximately an hour
Just like many other turtles, the alligator snapping turtle can hold its breath for 50 minutes. But this is not much. Some turtles can hold their breath in water for hours while sleeping.
Dinosaur of the turtle world
Alligators snapping turtles are reminiscent of the pre-historic dinosaur skin, which is why they are often referred to as the dinosaur of the turtle world.
It has a camouflaged rigged upper shell which is often covered in algae, adding further to the camouflaged appearance. It has a large head and also distinctively large claws. The shell and the skin can be brown, black, gray or olive green.
It can lure prey into its mouth
The alligator snapping turtle is obviously not fast enough. But it has an interesting way of luring the prey into its mouth. Its tongue has worm-like pink colored projections which looks like blood. It wiggles its tongue to attract the prey and the prey swim their way into its mouth. It is quite picky when it comes to food. It prefers to eat small fish, snakes, frogs and worms. It can also eat other smaller turtles.
They spend most of their time in water
These are nocturnal turtles that rarely come out of water. Their dark colored shell helps them ambush perfectly at night. They only come out of water to bask.
The alligator snapping turtle reaches maturity at the age of 12 years. They lay 10 to 50 after nesting. The eggs hatch after 100 or 140 days later.