Alligator snapping turtle, this is what they can get up too, I bought a tank and everything I need some tips though. src="http://members.aol.com/Nofxpunk99/turtle1.gif">
they get even bigger
Aquarium's new turtle snaps record
At 249 pounds, he's the largest alligator snapping turtle
on display in the world
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Nov. 5, 1998) -- With his hooked jaws, ridged shell and mottled skin, the Tennessee Aquarium's newest resident could be mistaken for a prehistoric creature. But this 249-pound behemoth is the largest alligator snapping turtle on exhibit in the world.
The turtle was placed in the Aquarium's Delta Tank on Thursday, Nov. 5. His ancient, dinosaur-like appearance might make it difficult for some to guess the new alligator snapper's age. But based on his size, the new turtle is at least 50 years old.
"Once they reach a certain size, there really is no reliable way to determine the exact age of these turtles," said Dave Collins, curator of forests for the Aquarium. "Most alligator snappers don't grow quite this large. But if they do reach this size, they tend to live to an extremely old age. Some of these large turtles have lived to be at least 100 years old."
These freshwater turtles set records for size and longevity, but they are important for another reason.
"Alligator snapping turtles are unique to our area," Collins said. "They are the largest freshwater turtles in North America, and they aren't found anywhere else in the world."
Alligator snapping turtles have a limited habitat and are found only in the southeastern United States, in rivers that drain into the Gulf of Mexico. This habitat covers southern Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico and ranges from Texas to Florida, Collins said. Sightings are rare in Illinois and Indiana and have been restricted to large adults.
Sheer size may be the most distinguishing characteristic for adult alligator snappers, but even the smaller juveniles are easy to recognize, he explained. The alligator snapper has a short, thick neck that supports a large head with a powerful, hooked upper jaw. The shell has three prominent ridges unlike the smooth shell of the common snapping turtle. The turtle's head, chin and neck are covered with branching, fleshy projections.
These projections, along with the irregular outline of the shell, help break up the turtle's profile. When submerged on the bottom of a river, it is easy to mistake the alligator snapper for a pile of rocks.
Even the inside of the turtle's mouth is camouflaged. A fleshy, worm-like appendage on its tongue actually allows the alligator snapper to "fish" for its dinner, Collins said. Lying motionless with its mouth open wide, it wiggles this lure to entice small fish to within striking distance of its steel-trap jaws.
While the alligator snapper is best known for this sit-and-wait fishing technique, the turtle usually takes a more active approach to finding dinner. He will hunt and forage, mostly at night, when prey fish can't see the tongue lure.
So what does a 249-pound freshwater turtle eat? When out in the wild, alligator snappers eat just about anything: fish, crayfish, mussels, snails, snakes, small alligators and even other turtles. Their menu also includes fruit and nuts.
At the Aquarium, the turtle is given a varied diet. In addition to a special gel-based turtle food, he dines on fish and even whole rats. He is also given ground oyster shells to help keep the crushing plates in his jaws from becoming overgrown.
The frequency of feeding and the amount of food the turtle receives change based on the time of year. Alligator snappers are less active in the winter and experience a drop in metabolism. During this time, they can go for weeks without eating.
Mating begins in the fall and continues into early spring. Females emerge from the water to deposit their eggs and can lay anywhere from eight to more than 50 eggs. In the wild, the eggs incubate 100 to 140 days. The young hatch in September or October and begin to head for water.
"These turtles spend most of their lives submerged," Collins explained. "Males rarely come out of the water to bask in the sun, and females emerge to lay their eggs."
Otters, raccoons, snakes and some large birds often eat juvenile turtles and eggs. However, man takes the heaviest toll on alligator snapper populations. These turtles continue to be heavily exploited as meat for human consumption, especially in Louisiana. Although several states have funded studies to track the number of alligator snapping turtles, these have provided only rough population estimates.
"Because these turtles spend so much of their lives submerged in murky waters, it is very difficult to get an accurate population count," Collins said.
Despite the lack of accurate population reports, turtle hunters, seafood dealers and wildlife managers suggest that natural populations are decreasing.
The alligator snapping turtle receives some level of protection in 10 of the 14 states where it lives. It is no longer found in Indiana and is extremely rare in Illinois and Kansas. In fact, only two alligator snappers have been found in Illinois in the past 30 years and surveys in Kansas have produced only one. Georgia and Arkansas have passed laws offering some protection for the species. However, they have no state protection in Louisiana and are not federally listed as a threatened or endangered species.
Efforts have been made to place the turtle on federal and international endangered species lists, but so far those efforts have been unsuccessful.
The Aquarium is moving forward with an alligator snapper breeding program, Collins said. In addition to the 249-pound alligator snapper, three males, four females and 19 baby turtles call the Aquarium home. It is hoped this breeding program will eventually allow alligator snappers to be released back into the wild.
With more than 500 specimens representing 72 species, the Aquarium also houses the largest freshwater turtle collection in the world. This interactive exhibit, Turtles: Nature's Living Sculptures - Architecture in Bone, allows visitors to examine and compare species native to the United States with those from throughout the world.
The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is the largest freshwater aquarium in the world. Built with private contributions, this non-profit educational organization is dedicated to the understanding, conservation and enjoyment of the Tennessee River and related ecosystems. Admission is $10.95 per adult and $5.95 per child, ages 3-12. The Aquarium is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas and is accessible to people with disabilities. The Aquarium’s TDD number is (423) 265-4498, and FM assistive listening devices are available on site. For more information, call 1-800-262-0695.
We had tons of them in the Ohio valley. (OH,PA,WV)
I've seen several with shell diameters larger than tires. just a little smaller than the above pic.