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Amazing Alligator Snapping Turtles

February 27th, 2009 · 1 Comment · Radnor Lake, turtles, wildlife

Monday, February 16, 2009
common snapping turtle at Radnor Lake in Nashville Tennessee
When I returned to the house today from a meeting and errands – most of which were a waste of time, with today being President’s Day – I flipped the boob tube onto the Discovery Channel and noted that Dirty Jobs was on. I expected the creepy show A Haunting to be on, but no matter; today’s Dirty Jobs is all about reptile care and keeping their captive homes clean.

This is my second post having to do with the giant Alligator Snapping Turtle – a primitive reptile that I believe calls Radnor Lake home. (NOTE: The top photo shows a common snapping turtle with his meaty legs outstretched as it suns itself on a log. Alligator snappers have not yet been confirmed at Radnor Lake.)

I was amazed to hear how old these creatures can get in the wild. According to a reptile keeper interviewed on today’s episode of Dirty Jobs, sometimes large alligator snapper specimens are found with wounds that turn out to be caused by the Civil War-era musket! Likewise, specimens killed and harvested have been found with musket balls still inside them.
alligator snapping turtle - living in Nashville, Tennessee??

It takes twelve years for alligator snapping turtles to reach maturity.

Quote: It is thought that alligator snapping turtles can live to be one hundred and fifty years old if they are left in the wild. Captive alligator snapping turtles usually live between twenty and seventy years.

The alligator snapping turtle, Macroclemys temminckii, is confined to the Gulf of Mexico drainages of the United States and is widespread in the lower Mississippi Valley. Its range extends from Georgia and northwestern Florida to eastern Texas and can be found as far north as southeast Kansas, southeast Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. Distribution in Alabama is nearly statewide. There have been no documented reports of its occurrence in the Tennessee River system in Alabama, but collections have been made from Bear Creek in Mississippi, a tributary of the Tennessee River.

More about Alligator Snappers

Pet Turtle Care
Southeastern Outdoors Forum: Alligator Snapping Turtle Rehabilitated and Released
Fact Sheet – Smithsonian National Zoological Park

Nichols, M., J. Pruitt, D. Munsey, G. Good, B. Meyer, K. Urban, K. Francl and P. DiLaura. 1999. “Macrochelys temminckii” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web.

Pictures – Animal Diversity Web
National Geographic – Alligator Snapper
Brookfield Zoo
Tortoise.org Archives


One Comment so far ↓

  • JoAnn Thompson

    I have a snapping turtle. I cannot tell if he is an alligator snapping turtle, or a common snapping turtle. He has a long tail with spikes, but not the huge spikes in the top of his shell, although he does have spikes there. Please see my web site, it shows good pics of him, and if you have any information, let me know. Thank you. Joann