Do you know who am I? I am the great ‘Alligator Snapping Turtle’, the largest among all the fresh water turtles.You will find us in the rivers, streams, lakes and other fresh water bodies of North and Southern America, Canada and in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi river.Scientifically we are known as Macrochelys temminckii (Troost, 1835) under the Kingdom of Animalia and Phylum Chordata. We feel extremely proud to be the members of the Class Reptilia, Testudine Order and Chelidridae Family.
We have got a few synonyms too like Macroclemmys temminckii (Boulenger, 1889), Chelonura temminckii (Troost, 1835) and Testudo planitia (Gmelin, 1789).
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Listen and be very careful! Never try to irritate us, because our severe and painful bites are just second to the strongest one in the world of animals. We wear a scary look with several fleshy projections on our body.
You may easily differentiate us from the common snapping turtles by seeing our large head, thick carapace with three characteristic ridges or raised plates of osteoderms (large scale) stretched from anterior to posterior with rows of spikes on it and the long, muscular tail.
Normally we are about 80 kilograms in weight with 16 to 32 inches long shells. Our adult males are much bigger than the females.
Believe it or not, we may survive for 150 years! Amazing, isn’t it!
Look at our overtly fashionable shell in a combination of grey, black, olive green and tan! The rough, algae coated surface of the shell in these natural hues help us terribly to camouflage with the surroundings, so that we can fool the predators as well as our preys easily under the water. They think it is a rock! Hah!
Spring-time is mating time. Our females dig the nest on the land and lay about 50 eggs from which cute 2 inch long hatchlings emerge out after 100 to 140 days. The 50 yards distance between the water and the nest saves our precious eggs from being washed away.
We relish small aquatic creatures and some plants too. By wriggling the unique vermiform (worm-like) tongue inside our open mouth we lure our prey and then SNAP!
Unfortunately, in spite of our powerful jaws and large, strong claws, we are now endangered because of hunting, pollution, abandoned fishing nets etc. We have now been designated as ‘Vulnerable’ under the act of IUCN 2.3.
We help in maintaining ecological balance. Save us before it is too late!
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