Species group: Snapping and Alligator Snapping Turtles
Other common names: Loggerhead Turtle, Alligator Turtle
Scientific name: Macroclemys temminckii
This largest of all North American turtles is also among most interesting, “fishing” with a lure that puts human anglers to shame! Unfortunately, the tiny dinosaur-like hatchlings that so enthrall turtle fans grow up to be behemoths capable of severing a finger, and needing a room-sized pool as a home.
The Alligator Snapping Turtle’s range extends along the USA’s Mississippi River Valley from Kansas, Iowa and southern Illinois to eastern Texas and then east to southern Georgia and northern Florida. Released pets have been captured in Japan, China, and several European countries.
Alligator Snapping Turtles are entirely aquatic, favoring deep rivers but also occurring in heavily-vegetated swamps, bayous, and lakes.
Appearance / health:
Alligator Snapping Turtles have a massive head, powerful jaws and a long neck and tail. The dark, 40-80 cm (16-31 inch) carapace bears 3 prominent ridges. Adult weights range from 20 to a record 113 kg (44-249 lbs.). As if this does not distinguish them enough, they also sport a life-like appendage, wiggled to attract fish, on the tongue.
These amazing throwbacks to eons past have lived for over 75 years in zoos. Pets, especially youngsters, are subject to typical turtle ailments, such as metabolic bone disease and fungal/bacterial infections of the shell and skin.
Behavior / temperament:
While Alligator Snappers adjust well to captivity if provided ample room (no easy task!), many remain defensive. Bites can be very severe, capable of severing fingers and inflicting other severe injuries. They should never be fed by hand, and picked up only after one is trained by an experienced handler. Alligator Snappers are not suitable pets for children (or anyone with a free ranging pet of any kind!).
Alligator Snappers do best in enclosures equipped with sub-surface basking sites of 90 F and powerful filtration. Water temperatures should range from 75-80 F. Individuals up to 10 inches in length can be accommodated in 55 100 gallon aquariums, but much larger tanks and outdoor ponds become necessary as they mature.
Powerful filters are necessary unless the enclosure can be emptied and cleaned several times weekly. Removing your turtles to an easily-cleaned container for feeding will lessen the filter’s workload. Alligator Snapping Turtles utilize dietary Vitamin D, and so if provided a healthful diet they do not require UVB exposure.
Alligator Snapping Turtles consume other turtles, fish, tadpoles, crayfish, snakes, snails, carrion, frogs, insects, ducks, and aquatic mammals such as muskrats. Vegetation, nuts, and fruits are also taken on occasion.
Pets should be fed earthworms, snails, pre-killed pink mice, crayfish, and whole, fresh-water fishes such as shiners, trout, Tilapia and native species (a steady diet of goldfish has been linked to health concerns); it is prudent to remove fin spines, where present. A high-quality dry turtle chow can comprise up to 50% of the diet. A cuttlebone should be available to supplement calcium levels.
Males may be distinguished their thicker tails and concave plastrons. Breeding usually occurs in early spring, with normal room temperature fluctuations often being sufficient to stimulate mating activity.
Gravid (egg-bearing) females usually become restless and may refuse food. They should be removed to a large container (i.e. 5x the length and width of the turtle) provisioned with moist soil and sand. Gravid females that do not nest should be seen by a veterinarian as egg retention invariably leads to a fatal infection (egg peritonitis). The 6-55 eggs may be incubated in a mix of 1 part vermiculite to 1 part water (by weight) at 78-85 F for 90-155 days.
Written by Frank Indiviglio
massive sizes, display animals, beautiful creature
time underwater, huge aquatic habitats, biting monster, nasty bite, Careful handling, fairly large tank
great tasting meat, prehistoric times
Crichton was a surprise gift from my mom when I was 13. She was at a livestock auction and a guy had 4 turtles for sale. I had said that I wanted a couple turtles for our fish pond, so my mom got them. 3 were regular old box turtles and one, was not. That would be Crichton. He was the same 6-9 inches as the box turtles, but not for long.
I have to say this is not a good pet. It was fine for us, because we had an entire pond for him to call home. But this guy, it turned out, was a baby when we got him. When we sold the farm and took him to a zoo when he was 5 years old, he was already a good 50 pounds and two feet long not counting his tail.
If you have a pond and don't mind him eating your fish, they are amazing to watch fish. They are ravenous though and eat non stop. One thing is guaranteed, you will be the only one on the block with a dinosaur. But bear in mind, as they grow up, they become capable of snapping off a finger, or a leg. Check them out in a zoo, unless you are a reptile specialist, do not get one of these..
From AnimalLoverr Mar 20 2016 5:46PM
Alligator Snapping Turtle - Macrochelys temminckii
Alligator Snapping Turtles are not really suitable as pets. They require large pens, large outdoor ponds, heated water in older areas, and require a lot of food on a daily basis. They also require calcium supplements throughout their lives and require round about 6-8 hours or direct sunlight everyday. i would only recommend this species for zoos and reptile breeders with a lot of space and time to sharie with their animals. An extremely fascinating species and one of my favourites..
From RobWedderburn Oct 16 2015 2:49PM
Snapping Turtle....What was I thinking?
Have you ever thought of keeping an alligator snapping turtle as a pet? Well, think about it one more time. First off, you don't keep them, they keep you. Have you seen Jurassic Park? Ok, I am exaggerating quite a bit, but they don't make ideal pets for several reasons. Still, it may be exactly what you are looking for. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of keeping one in house or on your property.
Pro: They are amazing looking creatures. They are a living dinosaur, and sometimes they even look related to some fictional drawings of dragons the way the spikes are arranged and their beaks protrude out. They are very cool in that respect.
Con: Looking at them is about all that you can do. You don't want to pick them up. Their necks can extend back and bite you. So be very careful. Luckily, they are very easy to catch because of their stubbornness. I would just dangle a rope in front of their mouth, and they would latch on. Then I just drag it through the grass all the way home. Trust me, it won't let go. What you do after that is up to you.
Pro: You don't have to clean their water often. In fact, odds are, if you found them in water, it was very muddy. They are used to that sort of murky environment. It is where they live and thrive. Of course, then you run into the issue of not being able to see your prized dinosaur again.
Con: They stink. If you don't clean whatever environment you have them in, then it will smell like you wouldn't believe.
Pro: They are easy to feed. Why? Because they feed on dead things. Dead fish, dead frog...dead anything.
Con: Where are you going to find all of this dead stuff? The highway?
Okay, so there are some cool things about them. If you have the right environment for them, they can live for decades and even much longer. It would probably outlive you. The issue is getting that environment. Sure you can just stick one in some pond, but watch out if you or anything else needs to venture into the pond. If you don't believe me, then come to Oklahoma sometime. Noodling is fishing for catfish by hand. You just stick your hand in the catfish hole under water, let it bite and pull it out. However, if you see chunks missing out of these brave noodling fishermen's limbs, they will tell you that it wasn't from a catfish. We even have rumors and legends that people have seen these prehistoric snapping turtles take down deer that are swimming across the lake. Although, it could just be a rumor. I suppose it would be easy to do since these turtles can get over 200 lbs....YIKES! Forget about chunks of flesh, that can take a hand off.
So, if you want to own an alligator snapping turtle, then to each his own. If you are the kind of person that doesn't mind keeping something like an alligator or crocodile just to see on occasion, then by all means. This could be the animal for you. Just don't expect it to be gentle with you. It is wild and it will remain wild. Just take caution when handling them, and whatever you do, don't try to ride it. You've been warned:).
From jarrodr Apr 17 2014 12:19PM