Alligator Snapping Turtle: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe!

One of the interesting alligator snapping turtle facts is that they are almost entirely covered with algae.)

Fish and wildlife services of the United States have done extensive research on alligator snapping turtles. The alligator snapping turtle, Macrochelys genus, is a member of the turtle family, which is found extensively in the southeastern united states. These turtles inhabit countries like Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, and so on. These turtles are carnivorous animals, which can be seen in the Missouri River.

The primary diet of alligator snapping turtles is formed by fish. These turtles have gotten their names owing to their resemblance to alligators. They have several ridges on their thick shells. These ridges are just like the ones on an alligator. The status of conservation of these turtles as per the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable. These snapping turtles are quite prone to illegal pet trades and have earlier been hunted extensively for meat. These turtles have unique habits. They actively hunt at night and stay underwater for most parts of their day. These turtles have long lifespan of up to 70 or 80 years.

You may also check out our fact files on the common snapping turtle and mata mata turtle from Kidadl.

Alligator Snapping Turtle

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Fish, mollusks, worms, and snakes

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

10-50 eggs

How much do they weigh?

17.6-176 lb (8-80 kg)

How long are they?

13.7-31.8 in (35-81 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Black, olive green, or brown and yellow markings around their small eyes

Skin Type

Dry scales

What are their main threats?

Humans, habitat destruction, and pollution

What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them

Lakes and rivers


North America





Scientific Name

Macrochelys temminckii





Alligator Snapping Turtle Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an alligator snapping turtle?

The alligator snapping turtle, Macrochelys genus is a type of turtle that is found in freshwater habitats (rivers or lakes).

What class of animal does an alligator snapping turtle belong to?

The alligator snapping turtle, Macrochelys genus is a turtle that belongs to the Reptilia class. This turtle is scientifically named Macroclemys temminckii, after a renowned Duct zoologist, Coeraad J Temminck.

How many alligator snapping turtles are there in the world?

The snapping turtle, Macrochelys temminckii has a Vulnerable status of conservation. Such a status of conservation indicates a very less number of population. Till 2011 the population of these turtles was 105. This number increased to 282 in the year 2015.

Where does an alligator snapping turtle live?

The alligator snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle found in North America. This turtle is found in and around Florida, inhabiting a river, stream, or lake. These aquatic turtle species are found only in freshwater ecosystems.

What is an alligator snapping turtle's habitat?

The largest freshwater turtle of North America, an alligator snapping turtle, can be found in and around Florida. Their geographical range is the southeastern United States and extends from Florida to the eastern parts of Texas. This range extends through Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, and so on. Missouri River is largely populated with these turtle species.

Who do alligator snapping turtles live with?

An alligator snapping turtle is a freshwater turtle that is known for its solitary nature. This turtle species spends its days staying submerged in water.

How long does an alligator snapping turtle live?

A snapping turtle, Macrochelys temminckii can survive for as long as 80 years in the wild. In captivity, the lifespan of these turtle species can be 70 years.

How do they reproduce?

The mating system of these turtle species is polygynandry. Females and males have multiple partners. The breeding season of these turtles begins in the early spring season. The females are responsible for building a nest. In a single clutch, the females lay about 10-50 eggs. The incubation temperature of the eggs determines the gender of the young turtles. If the temperature is too high or low, then the gender is female. While if the temperature is mediocre, These eggs can take up to 140 days to hatch, and the young ones are independent of their birth. These turtles are one of those species where the young ones do not require any parental care or nurturing. The babies are capable of fending for themselves from the time of their birth.

What is their conservation status?

The alligator snapping turtle is a freshwater turtle found in Florida. The status of conservation of these turtle species is Vulnerable, according to the IUCN Red List. Such a status of conservation indicates that the population of these species is quite low ad needs to be taken care of. These turtles are important for conservation owing to their threats from humans. These turtle species are hunted down for their meat or illegal pet trade.

Alligator Snapping Turtle Fun Facts

What do alligator snapping turtles look like?

The alligator snapping turtle is distinguishable from the other turtle species owing to its distinct appearance. It has a large head, which is very heavy. It has powerful jaws, a thick shell that has distinct ridges on it. This shell resembles an alligator's ridged skin, giving it its name. These turtles vary in color from brown to black and even olive green. Their shell and skin are mostly found to be covered in algae, which gives it a great camouflaging capacity. The turtle's tongue is worm like, helping it to catch its prey.

An alligator snapping turtle has extremely powerful jaws to trap its prey.

How cute are they?

Snapping turtles, Macrochelys temminckii, which hails from Florida, are not very cute to look at. They have algae covered skin, which repels many.

How do they communicate?

The communication between temminckii alligator snapping turtle species is very simple. They mostly communicate during mating and use leg movements. Their smelling sense, vision helps them in prey detection. They can also sense the vibrations within the water.

How big is an alligator snapping turtle?

An alligator snapping turtle hails from Florida. This turtle can range between 13.7 in-31.8 in (35 cm-81 cm) in its length. This size makes this turtle species at least two times larger than a red eared slider.

How fast can an alligator snapping turtle move?

The average speed of these turtle species is 2.4 mph (4 mph). Within the water, this speed range can increase to 10 mph (16 kph) or 12 mph (19 kph).

How much does an aligator snapping turtle weigh?

The average weight of these species of turtles can range from 17.6-176 lb (8 kg-80 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no separate names for males and females of these turtles. They are simply denoted by their gender.

What would you call a baby alligator snapping turtle?

The young one of an alligator snapping turtle is called a hatchling.

What do they eat?

An alligator snapping turtle is a carnivorous animal. The primary diet of these turtles is made of fish. Apart from fish varieties, this turtle also feeds on mollusks, snakes, some aquatic plants, and even other turtle and alligator species. Fish carcasses also form a major part of its diet. This turtle's tongue is shaped like a worm which helps it to trap its prey with ease. When a fish gets trapped by the tongue of this turtle, then it lands directly into the jaws of this predator.

Are they poisonous?

Temminckii alligator snapping turtles are not poisonous. They simply have immense bite force.

Would they make a good pet?

Alligator snapping turtles are freshwater turtles, which have been tagged Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. These turtles should never be kept as pets. They have specific habitat needs, and their trading is illegal.

Did you know...

The fish and wildlife services of the USA have conducted massive research on the alligator snapping turtles of Florida. These turtles are the largest of their breed and can stay submerged in water for extensive periods of time. They travel to land only when the females have to nest.

Alligator snapping turtles are known to hunt at night. They are not very active during the day and remains in the water motionless. The females of these turtle species are known to lay eggs, which can be as many as 52! The females do not show any kind of parental affection after the eggs hatch.

Alligator snapping turtles are solitary creatures. It is highly possible that you will see many turtles in a single small area. But these turtles hardly have any social interactions, except in the time for mating. These turtles are docile when in water but can become very vicious once removed from water bodies.

Alligator snapping turtles have unique habits. They love to bury themselves within the mud in the water. They only keep their eyes and nostrils exposed for keeping a good watch and breathing. They keep a very good watch for their prey by burying themselves. Their tongue has a unique worm-type appearance, which they use to fool their prey. A fish comes close to these turtles mistaking the tongue to be a real worm. This is when the turtle catches its prey.

Alligator snapping turtles and humans

Alligator snapping turtles from Florida have several myths surrounding them. One of these myths is that they attack humans. But this is not the actual scenario. They have never killed any humans. They will only attack you if they feel threatened. These turtles have extensive bite force, almost more than 1000 lb (453 kg), which is a threatening factor.

Alligator snapping turtle records

Alligator turtles have records in many respects. They can stay submerged in the water longer than any other aquatic species. They have a record of 40-50 minutes underwater! Although this is unverified, Alligator snapping turtles of extremely heavy sizes have been reported. One such turtle was reported in Kansas back in 1937. It was reported to be as heavy as 403 lb (183 kg).

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these hawksbill sea turtle facts and Chinese softshell turtle facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our turtle coloring pages.



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