Born with a ‘fishing bait’

Alligator snapping turtles, Macrochelys temminckii, are the largest freshwater turtle in North America where the average weight of a male is 80kg and the average length is 66cm. Spiked shell, beaklike jaws, as well as thick, scaled tail are distinctive features of these alligator snapping turtles. Interestingly, their prehistoric look resulted in them being called the “dinosaur of the turtle world.” (“Alligator snapping turtle,” )

“Prehistoric-looking alligator snapping turtle” by Gary M. Stolz/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. URL: (accessed on 6 April 2013)

Adult snappers’ predators are human, who capture them not only for their meat and shells but also to sell them in the exotic animal trade. As a result, of human interference, their population dwindled and they are now listed as a threatened species.

Apart from nesting purpose where female alligator snappers would venture on land, they usually spend most of their time in the water. As they remain motionless underwater, algae may cover their back, which thus conceals them from the fishes. Alligator snappers feed on a variety of food varying from fishes to frogs to snakes and also other turtles.

Ever wondered how do Alligator Snapping Turtles catch their prey?

These alligator snappers have a very unique way of getting their food. Inside their mouths lies a long and thin pink piece of flesh on their tongue, which acts as a ‘fishing bait’. While the adult tends to lie in ambush, the young would forage actively. (“Freshwater turtles,” )

Lying quietly at the river bottom, they open their jaw where the worm-like flesh would then lure fishes or frogs in. Although they do not have any teeth, their jaws are strong. Once the prey enters the the mouth of the alligator snapper, it is either swallowed whole or cut in two by the sharp jaws. (DiLaura)

Literature cited

Alligator snapping turtle. (n.d.). Retrieved from on 2 April 2013)

Freshwater turtles. (n.d.). Retrieved from (accessed on 2 April 2013)

DiLaura, P. (n.d.). Macrochelys temminckii. Retrieved from (accessed on 2 April 2013)