Snapping turtle

At Manatee Springs at the Cincinnati Zoo.

The alligator snapping turtle (Macroclemys temmnicki) is the largest freshwater turtle in the world. It lies practically motionless on the bottom of a lake or river. A thick layer of algae grows on its shell to help it blend in with its habitat. Opening its mouth, it wiggles a pink worm-like tongue to lure in passing fish and—SNAP!—dinner is served.

The alligator snapping turtle can stay underwater for 40 to 50 minutes before coming up for air.With its ridged shell and huge size, the alligator snapping turtle is referred to as “the dinosaur of the turtle world”.


  • Where to see them: Southeastern United States
  • Length: 1.3 to 2.7 ft
  • Weight: More than 220 lbs
  • Habitat: Wetlands, lakes, and rivers
  • Diet: Fish
  • Risk Status: Species at Risk (IUCN—Vulnerable)
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