Alligator Snapping Turtle ( Macrochelys temminckii )

The Snapping Turtles ( Chelydridae ) are a family of turtles with four extant species in two genera in North America, Central America and northern South America. Here is the snapping turtles (Chelydra ) and the alligator snapping turtle ( Macrochelys temminckii ). In addition, several species have been recorded fossil.


The extant alligator turtles are very large and compactly built turtles with a strong carapace ( carapace ). The snapping turtle reaches a size of about 45 centimeters and weighing an average of 15 to a maximum of about 30 kg, while the alligator snapping turtle can weigh in a maximum carapace length of almost 70 centimeters up to 100 kilograms, and thus one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world. Both species possess powerful jaws and, like all neck Berger turtles, her head, legs and tail drag under the tank.


The snapping turtles come from Canada through the United States and Central America to northern South America to Ecuador before and live in slow-flowing waters with muddy ground. The alligator snapping turtle lives exclusively in the area of the Mississippi River and its major tributaries.

Way of life

All kinds of Alligator turtles live in fresh water larger, slow-flowing streams with muddy ground. They hunt for fish and other animals, by einwühlen in the mud and stretch out their red-colored tongue to snatch baited fish. Otherwise, they dig in the mud and look for benthic organisms as well as carcasses and aquatic plants.

Go to the egg-laying animals on land and lay their 10 to 40 eggs in loose soil, where the young hatch after about 70 to 80 days.

Phylogeny and systematics

Representatives of the Snapping Turtles are fossil evidence until the late Cretaceous period and have large parts of the Northern Hemisphere (Asia, Europe and North America) inhabited. The oldest fossil originates from Emarginachelys cretacea from the Maastrichtian about 70 million years ago in what is now Montana. From the late Paleocene of present-day North Dakota, the well-preserved fossil of Protochelydra zangerli with very high domes dates back to the carapace as an adaptation to protect these turtles ago hunting crocodiles. Of the genus Chelydropsis several fossil species from the Oligocene are proven to Pliocene in Europe.


A recently there are four types of alligator turtles, which are assigned to two genera:

  • Snapping turtles (Chelydra ) South American snapping turtle (Chelydra acutirostris )
  • Central American snapping turtle (Chelydra rossignonii )
  • Common Snapping Turtle ( Chelydra serpentina )
  • Alligator Snapping Turtle ( Macrochelys temminckii )

Economic Importance

Both the snapping turtle and the alligator snapping turtle are hunted in their homeland. The meat of the animals is considered local delicacy and is often prepared and eaten accordingly.