alligator snapping turtle

Alligator Snapping Turtle

Macroclemys temminckii

CLASS Reptilia | ORDER Chelonia | FAMILY Chelydridae

RANGE Southeastern United States

HABITAT Prefer deep water of large rivers, canals, lakes, and swamps

DIET Fish, frogs, snakes, snails, worms, clams, crawfish, turtles, and aquatic plants

Can reach over 200 lbs.

Up to 2.5 ft.

3.5 - 4.5 months

8 to 52 eggs

IUCN Status
alligator snapping turtle

The alligator snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in North America. It can stay submerged for up to 50 minutes before it needs to come up to the surface to breathe.

Alligator snapping turtles are so motionless under water that algae may cover their backs and make the turtles almost invisible to fish.

They lure fish into their mouth by wiggling their tongue, which has a special attachment shaped like a worm. When a curious fish or other unwary prey tries to eat the decoy "worm," the turtle's massive jaws close on the prey.

alligator snapping turtle

Alligator snapping turtles suffer from habitat loss, water pollution, and over-harvesting. These turtles have been heavily trapped for meat for consumers both inside and outside the United States.