Without getting into the specifics as far as biological classification, the Alligator Snapping turtle can generally be found in environments the likes of rivers, lakes, etc – just about any freshwater environment you can imagine. For the most part they’re dispersed throughout the North American continent and can be found commonly throughout the southern United States.
The Alligator Snapping turtle is hands down the largest of all freshwater turtles and it’s not much of a sun lover because it can calmly stay underwater for up to a few hours. It is actually very uncommon that an Alligator Snapping turtle is spotted far off from water and the only reason they leave it is to lay their eggs, then come back.
What are some of their main characteristics?
First, their huge brown head is a very distinguishable feature making them easy to spot. Because it has a large and extremely hard shell along with some spiky ridges, this might actually scare some people away as it gives a turtle of this kind a very mature and scary look.
When it comes to coloring, the shell has shades of black and grey and they also have yellowish circles around the eyes which are there to provide them good camouflage and clear visibility below water.
Their eyes are very distinct and proof enough of that are the heavy eyelashes. If you’re wondering about size, these turtles can be quite heavy and the average fully grown Alligator Snapping turtle weights around 80 kg whilst larger ones have also been spotted.
They have an interesting and distinguishable muscular tail as well as warts on visible fleshy parts throughout their body. The average Alligator Snapping turtle is also far from gentle and has some of the toughest claws out of all turtles.
One very interesting feature that they have is a worm shaped tongue and they mainly use it to attract their pray. You should be very careful about approaching a turtle of this kind because it’s among the strongest and there are hardly any other animals with a bite as strong as theirs.
Generally speaking, the average male adult Alligator Snapping turtle tends to be larger than its female counterpart. In addition, females have thinner tails when compared. To the untrained eye it’s actually hard to tell a difference between genders and you shouldn’t even try to approach them unless you’re an expert.
What do they commonly eat?
Their diet is mainly comprised of fish and amphibians. Sometimes they eat worms and they generally feed themselves on smaller creatures.
How do they reproduce?
Similarly to other turtles, they have a mating season that starts in spring. Female turtles will usually leave water for the first time in months, go tens of meters away from it where they can safely lay their eggs and the water is unreachable for protection. It doesn’t take long for the female turtles to lay eggs and on average they tend to lay around 30 white shell eggs where they see fit.
The young turtles will break out of the shell around a hundred days after the laying and then instinctively make their way towards the water.
What’s surprising to most people is that the average Alligator Snapping turtle is able to live for up to a century. You’ll also have to keep in mind that these are not the friendliest of turtles and can quickly turn hostile which is why you should be very careful in their presence. They’re not as widespread as they used to be and need as much protection as they can get too.