Monday, December 19, 2011

Alligator Snapper is dinosaur of Turtle World by Judie Farnsworth

It lives in the southeastern United States, can exceed 200 pounds, wears spikes and uses a red lure to hunt.

No, it's not cousin Bubba - it's the dinosaur of the turtle world, the alligator snapping turtle.

A spiked shell, hooked, beak-like jaws, oversized claws and a scaled tail, nearly as long as its upper shell (carapace) all add to its prehistoric look.

The carapace has three prominent ridges that run down its back. Their resemblance to an alligator gives this turtle its common name.

The freshwater alligator snapping turtle is one of the largest in the world, certainly in North America. It's found in rivers, lakes, bayous and canals.

These turtles rarely come ashore. Females leave the water to lay and bury their eggs, normally around 50 feet from the water. Mating and egg laying are usually annual spring events with no ruffles and flourishes.

There doesn't seem to be any social niceties. An average of 10 to 50 eggs are left and no parental care is given. Eggs are often found, uncovered and eaten by other animals, like raccoons.

Those turtles that hatch have a dangerous trek back to the water. They may become prey for animals, snakes, birds and even other turtles once they reach the water.

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