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Florida Boardwalk Animal Fact Sheet
ALLIGATOR SNAPPING TURTLE
Macroclemys temmincki

Range:
Coastal plain from S.E. Georgia and Florida panhandle to E. Texas, north to Iowa and Indiana. In Florida, found only from Santa Fe and Suwannee River northwest throughout the panhandle.
This is probably one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world. Its head, which is not fully retractable, is very large with a strong hooked beak. The tail is very long and rounded. The males are ultimately larger than the females. It is a highly aquatic animal, only the nesting females are known to leave the water. While submerged it tends to be a bottom walker rather than a swimmer.

The alligator snapping turtle has an unusual way of attracting its prey. It has a unique pink wormlike structure on its tongue, which becomes bright pink when filled with blood. It will rest quietly on the bottom with its mouth agape. The turtle moves its underlying muscles to make the "lure" wriggle. Fish swimming between the sharp horny jaws to investigate are caught by a swift snap. As the turtle ages the lure darkens and may be of less importance to adults.

Habitat: Typically deep rivers and canals; also found in lakes and swamps. Especially located near deep running water and occasionally brackish water.
Diet: Fish, snails, mussels. Stalks anything it can capture and swallow, including other turtles. Also scavenges and feed upon carrion.
Status: Vulnerable (IUCN)
Approximate Dimensions of Adult: Length: 28 inches/head's maximum width 9 inches
Weight: up to 200 lbs.
Carapace: up to 28 inches
Lifespan: 60 years in captivity
Reproduction & Offspring: Breeding: February to April. Mates underwater. Lays one clutch of 10-40 spherical eggs in flask-shaped earthen cavity a short distance from water's edge from April to June. Incubation takes 11½ -16 weeks.

 

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