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Alligator snapping turtle

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Alligator snapping turtle
Alligator snapping turtle.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Macrochelys temminckii

The alligator snapping turtle, Macroclemys temminckii, is a species of snapping turtles identified as being the largest freshwater turtle in the world. They can weigh up to 175lbs. Its appearance screams prehistoric. [1]

The alligator snapping turtle has economic importance that both have positive and negative impact on us. Snapping turtle eggs and young ones are prey for other animals such as bigger fish, raccoons, and birds, whereas adult snapping turtles aren't. The adults are predators rather than prey, except in the case of humans. We find value in their exceptional form and their protein or meat. A negative effect that snapping turtles have is their famous, snapping bite. This attribute, though, is not harmful to humans unless the turtles are forced to react. [2]

Anatomy

Jaws and lure of snapping turtle

The alligator snapping turtle is recognized because as stated before, it is the largest freshwater turtle in the world ranging from from 155 and 175 pounds. [3] It is also distinguished by the three noticeable ridges, called keels, that stretch from their front to the back of the carapace, better known as their shell. Its powerful jaws and broad head share their appearance. What is particularly different from other turtles beside the alligator snapping turtle is that their eyes are situated on the sides of their head. The male turtle is larger in size compared to the female. The snapping turtle has bilateral symmetry, is heterothermic, meaning that its body temperature changes with the environment, and also ectothermic, a cold-blooded animal. [4] They have a long tail and a plastron, which is the ventral side of the turtle. The plastron is a mix brown and gray colors and has a pattern in the shape of a cross or an 'x'. The snapping turtle possesses a curious structure called a lure, which is roughly a moving flap that looks like a worm. This entices the turtle's prey to travel unsuspecting into their mouth. The turtle's shell holds many ridges and keels that outline its body in unique designs. The overall color of the turtle is usually a darker brown or grey than the bottom. [5]

The sex of a baby snapping turtle is concluded and shown during the incubation temperature. Female snapping turtles occur when there are warm temperatures of 29 to 30 degrees Celsius. Male turtles show up when somewhat lower temperatures of 25 to 27 degrees Celsius. Other temperatures create both sexes. Young baby snapping turtles' features are closely similar to the adult's.[6]

Most of their time is used up by swimming in the water. The female will go on land to lay her eggs and place them in the nest. For a time, the snapping turtles can remain in the water for around 40 to 50 minutes, only coming up for air. If you carefully watch the turtle, you notice that it stays motionless. Over time, algae will cover their shells and conceal them to other sea life. [7]

Reproduction

snapping turtle opening mouth

The reproduction of alligator snapping turtles begin when the male turtle positions himself on top of the female's shell and together they begin mating. They start early in spring around Florida and also in late spring in the Mississippi Valley. The female snapping turtle will lay eggs once annually. Two months after the eggs are laid, the nest hole, which is carefully dug in the ground, is located around 50 meters away from a lake, a pond, or any body of water. The clutch (batch of eggs) of the snapping turtle may have 8 up to 52 eggs in each. The incubation period is summed up to be 100 to 140 days overall. The eggs finally hatch in the fall. The maturity level in baby snapping turtles is reached at the age of 11 to 13 years for both sexes. The reproduction of the alligator snapping turtle is oviparous. Once the young turtles are born, the male snapping turtle doesn't involve himself with them and leaves them in the care of the mother. [8]

Ecology

alligator snapping turtle

Alligator snapping turtles are naturally aquatic, meaning that they live in water. Because of this, they live in streams, canals, lakes, ponds, other various types of bodies of water. [9] Some live in swamps and in water that empties out into the Gulf of Mexico, as well. [10] Young baby turtles will most likely live in small streams. The snapping turtle will scour for food supply during the night. Their diet consists of all types of fish, also frogs, snakes, snails, worms, clams, crayfish, aquatic plants, and other turtles. [11] The turtles settle themselves down on the ground, setting up their bait, which is by opening up their mouth with their lure hanging out to catch their prey or food. [12] Their range is from the southeastern area in the United States and in the North American southern states. [13] [14]

Life Span

Both genders of the alligator snapping turtles ages range in close proximity. The male snapping turtle can live to be between the ages of 11 years old to 45 years old. The female snapping turtle lives around 15 years to 37 years old. The average for males was about 26 years and the average for females was around 23 years old. [15] In captivity, they age longer and healthier. Twenty to seventy years is said to be the estimate for snapping turtles in restraint. [16] Seventy was the oldest recorded age for any alligator snapping turtle. [17]

References