Alligator snapping turtle

Macrochelys temminckii

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Classification of the alligator snapping turtle

  • Domain: Eukarya---All multicelled organisms are in this domain

  • Kingdom: Animalia---All Animals are in this kingdom. Most ingest food from an internal cavity. Animals cells lack the rigid cell walls that characterize plant cells.

  • Phylum Chordata---All organisms in this phylum have bilateral symmetry. They have a complete digestive system

They have a bony or cartilaginous endoskeleton usually present.

Cartilaginous endoskeleton is a exoskeleton made of cartilage removed when an adult.

  • Subphylum: Vertebrata---Bony or cartilaginous endoskeleton

They have a ventral heart with 2-4 chambers

most vertebrates have two sexes,(there are some exceptions).

  • The ventral heart is the front of the heart.

  • Class: Reptilia---Reptilia, presented as a Class in our classification, includes turtles , snakes and lizards, crocodiles and their relatives.

Their eggs are covered with a leathery or calcium-based shell, and fertilization occurs inside the female, rather than outside, as it does in most amphibians.

Both the fossil record and comparative analyses of living species convincingly establish that, among living reptiles, birds and crocodiles are more closely related to each other than they are to snakes and lizards.

  • Order: Testudines

The shell is not an exoskeleton.

Turtles can not take their shells off.

All turtles are in the order Testudines (or Chelonia)

  • Family: Chelydridae The members of this family are united in having very big heads and the limbs in it can't fully retract.

The jaws are very strong and the upper jaw is hooked.

Chelydridae is divided into two subfamilies (Chelydrinae and Platysterninae).

  • Genus: Macroclemys

  • Species: Macroclemys Temmnickii

Physical Descriptions of the alligator snapping turtle

Physical Descriptions of the alligator snapping turtle

  • Range weight: The range weight of an alligator snapping turtle is 70-80 kg

    Range length: The range length of a alligator snapping turtle is 79-101 cm

    Colors: The alligator snapping turtle's shell can be either grey, black, brown, or green.

    Most shell however, are greenish because of the algae.

    The algae on the shell helps because it camouflage's the turtle.

    Habitat: Alligator snapping turtles usually live in freshwater areas such as rivers and canals where they can get fish and other prey.

    Alligator snapping turtle usually get a lot of rainfall each year.

    They can hold their breaths for 40 minutes before they need to come up to breath.

    How they get food: Alligator snapping turtles scavenge and hunt for food.

    They mostly eat fish mollusks and other turtles.

    These turtles take advantage of warm winter days to hunt which allows them to feed year round.

    Predators: The alligator snapping turtle When fully matured has no natural predators other than humans. However, baby turtles are preyed on by birds and other animals.

    Natural range: Alligator snapping turtles are common in the east of Mexico and the US.

    They also inhabit parts of South America and other countries; Though not as much as the US and Mexico.

    Other Facts: A female may have up to 30 offspring a year (they only produce once a year)

    The offspring looks very alike the mom

    The Sex is determined by the temperature of where they were incubated

Physical adaptations

  • Large jaws allow them to eat big prey
  • The bite of the turtle is very dangerous which brings down prey
  • The algae on their backs is ideal for camouflage
  • They have a shell that protects them from attacks from above
  • Have webbed feet for swimming

Behavioral adaptations

  • They are motionless underwater which allows them to catch prey easily
  • They release a chemical from their throat that tracks fish
  • They are hunters and scavengers this helps them so they can get food for themselves at almost all times
  • Has a lure near the mouth that attracts fish and also lets it get a free meal without doing much
  • Their mouth can open wide which allows them to eat large prey


Burton, M. (2002). Snapping turtle. In International wildlife encyclopedia (3rd ed., Vol. 17, pp. 2425-2426). New York, NY: Marshall Cavendish.

DiLaura, P.; J. Pruitt; D. Munsey; G. Good; B. Meyer and K. Urban 1999. "Macrochelys temminckii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 11, 2015 at