Florida Fauna & Flora – Alligator Snapping Turtle
Alligator snapping turtles look like a holdover from prehistoric times when dinosaurs roamed the earth. You can find this unique reptile throughout the southeastern United States and as far north as Iowa. It is the largest species of fresh-water turtle.
Alligator snapping turtles rarely venture onto land. Females lay eggs on the ground then quickly return underwater. This carnivore has a tongue with a bright-red piece of flesh that resembles a worm. The species lays on the bottom of a riverbed or lake with its mouth open to lure fish directly into its mouth. This turtle can hold its breath underwater for 40 to 50 minutes.
These turtles are giant – males may weigh up to 200 pounds. Alligator snapping turtles have no predators in the wild. They are not on the endangered species list, but their numbers are dwindling because humans like to trap them for their distinctive shells and meat. Many states have bans on killing these turtles.
Fun Fauna Fact: Prey has a hard time hiding from alligator snapping turtles. They can taste substances secreted by prey in the water that alerts them when a tasty meal is hiding nearby.
Source: The National Wildlife Federation
Read the full February 2021 SECO News online.