Macrochelys temminckii
Alligator Snapping Turtle

    • Habitat:
      Rivers, creeks, spring runs, bayous, oxbows, river swamps, reservoirs
    • Threats:
      - Poaching for consumption, to stock breeding farms, and for illegal commerical transport
      - Fishing gear entanglement, especially trotlines
      - Waterway channelization, alteration, riparian destruction, and damming
    • Conservation Efforts:
      - TSA-NAFTRG performs long-term population monitoring in the greater Houston metropolitan area
      - Research includes tracking, documentation, and population monitoring
      - One of the densest populations known to science
      - Protected from hunting in every state in which it naturally occurs, with the exception of Louisiana, where one individual may be collected per day for personal use
    • Wild Population:
    • Endangered Status:

Fast Facts

  • The Alligator Snapping Turtle is divided into two separate species: The Western Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) and the Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys suwanniensis)
  • The Alligator Snapping Turtle is one of the largest freshwater turtle in the world; the largest specimen on record was a captive specimen of 107 kg (236 lbs)
  • Alligator Snapping Turtles are estimated to live up to 200 years
  • Despite its menacing appearance, this species is not aggressive, but will actively display a gaping mouth when molested
  • The worm-like appendage in its mouth may be different colors depending on the genetics of the specimen, ranging in color from whitish, to pink, to pale grey, or brown
  • Alligator Snapping Turtles use chemosensory cues to locate prey items. They use gular (throat) pumping to draw water in and out to sample the surrounding water for chemicals that have been released by prey species (Punzo and Alton, 2002)
  • The large, powerful jaws of this species can exert a bite force of 1000 PSI

Species Snapshot