Biologists Release 100-Pound Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtle, An Endangered Species in Florida

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alligator snapping turtle is protected as a State Species of Special Concern

ABOVE VIDEO: Watch as biologists release a 100-pound Suwannee alligator snapping turtle. The alligator snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in North America. Male alligator snapping turtles can reach lengths of 29 inches and 249 pounds, while females can reach lengths of 22 inches and 62 pounds.

(FWC) – The Suwannee Alligator is a state threatened species and researchers are currently working to document where they live.

The alligator snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in North America. Male alligator snapping turtles can reach lengths of 29 inches and 249 pounds, while females can reach lengths of 22 inches and 62 pounds.

The inner mouth lining is gray/brown with black splotches, which is different from most turtles; others have a pink lining (Ewert et al. 2006).

This species also has a tremendously long tail; large, triangle-shaped head; curved beak; and a rough brown shell with three spines that run vertically up the shell.

The alligator snapping turtle can be found in rivers, lakes, backwater swamps, and periodically in brackish water systems (mixture of fresh and saltwater) from Florida to Texas and north to Illinois (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001).

In Florida, this species can be found in the Panhandle and Big Bend regions, from the Escambia River east to the Suwannee River.

The highest amount of harvesting occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, which caused the regional population to decline. (FWC image)

Alligator snapping turtles were historically used as food in their southern range; the highest amount of harvesting occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, which caused regional population to decline.

Mortality rates slowed in the 1970s in Florida when the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission enacted rules to limit the take of alligator snapping turtles.

Presently, under Rule 68A-27.005 of the Florida Administrative Code, it is illegal to take, possess, or sell the alligator snapping turtle, as it is a protected species. It could take decades for the alligator snapping turtle to recover from the pre-1970 overharvesting.

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