Alligator Snapping Turtle

Macrochelys temminckii

Classification

Domain Eukarya- All organisms in Domain Eukarya are multicellular, have a nucleus and are eukaryotes, can be single celled or multicellular

Kingdom Animalia- Are heterotrophs, most organisms have internal digestion and move in some point in their life

Phylum Chordata- Have a notochord structure and have bilateral symmetry, they also have a closed blood system

Sub phylum Vertebrata- Have a vertebral column, the vertebral column replaces the notochord, produce hair, scales and etc., have a digestive system and other vital organs like glands, liver and a pancreas

Class Reptilia- Their eggs have shells they are born with( which they lose after some time), have scales, have lungs for respiration

Order Testudines- Have shells, their shells can't be pulled off it's part of their ribcage, all turtles are part of this order

Family Celydridae- Only three species in this family, they can live in the North America, northern South America and Southeastern Asia, have strong jaws and hooked upper jaws

Genus Marcochelys- Alligator Snapping turtle is the only organism for this genus

Species- Macrochelys temminckii

General Description

Length- About 79-101 cm (31.10 to 39.76 in)

Weight- About 70 to 80 kg (154.19 to 176.21 lb)

Color- Has a dark gray, black or brown shell and a light-colored belly, the skin is a shade green and if you look at it overall it's not colorful but rather dull in color

Natural Range- Are found from Northern Florida to Southern Georgia and the Gulf States to Texas, they're also found in Illinois to Kansas and the Mississippi River

Diet- Alligator Snapping Turtles feed on plants, carrion, insects, fish, frogs, ducklings and young muskrats they also eat snakes, worms, clams, crayfish and even other turtles.

Habitat Description- They spend their time in muddy ponds, lakes and rivers

Predators- The only main predator for adults are humans, but for young Alligator Snapping Turtles, raccoons, predatory fish and large birds may be a threat

Physical Adaptations

When on land Alligator Snapping Turtles have shells which appear like rock which also gives camouflage. This helps because it will increase the chance of them catching prey which they need for survival. Not only can they breathe using their lungs but they can also breathe using the skin on their throat. This is giving them air which they need to survive. They have powerful jaws with a hooked upper jaw. This helps eat and catch prey. Their upper jaw is strong enough to seriously maul a persons hand. This turtle has a forked tongue that is pink and worm-like. It lures it's prey in by using it's tongue as bait. It is born with the tongue that provides a good hunting tactic. It also has webbed toes which help it move in water. This helps it catch food in water. Alligator Snapping Turtles have short, strong, muscular legs that support and the ability to move. They have eyes on the sides of their head which give them more visibility. This helps them in many ways, including keeping an eye on predators around them. Alligator Snapping Turtles also have yellow radiant patterns around their eyes which help them camouflage. Their large size is part of why they don't have many predators.

Behavioral Adaptations

These turtles use their throat to sample the water around and to see if their has been any prey lurking around. This increases their chances of finding prey to eat. The Alligator Snapping Turtle is also a passive hunter. It's patient and waits to attack its prey. This also increases their chances of finding something they can eat to get energy from. Alligator Snapping Turtles can stay under water for 40 to 50 mins which allows algae to start covering their shells and skin which makes a a perfect camouflage. Females produce more than once a year which increases the likely hood of the species surviving. They lie in the bottom of a murky pond at night. This help them camouflage and get prey to eat. These turtles also bite quickly and snap at their prey wounding it.

References

References

Alligator snapping turtle. (n.d.). Retrieved March 19, 2015, from National Geographic website: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/alligator-snapping-turtle/


Alligator snapping turtle. (2014). Retrieved March 13, 2015, from http://www.czs.org/Brookfield-ZOO/Zoo-Animals/The-Swamp/Alligator-Snapping-Turtle


Burton, M. (2002). Snapping turtle. In International wildlife encyclopedia (17th ed., 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 http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Macrochelys_temminckii/


Macrochelys temminckii. (n.d.). Retrieved March 19, 2015, from EOL website: http://eol.org/pages/791511/details


Top 10 animal cheats. (n.d.). Retrieved March 19, 2015, from Animal Planet website: http://www.animalplanet.com/wild-animals/6-alligator-snapping-turtle/