The Alligator Snapping Turtle is the world's largest and most dangerous species of freshwater turtle, with one specimen found in 1948 being said to be as large as a kitchen table. Found throughout the Mississippi Basin in the southern USA, the Alligator Snapping Turtle is one of the most ferocious predators in it's natural environment.
They spend the daylight hours buried in the mud on the floors of rivers and lakes where they wait ready with their mouths open to ambush their prey. The Alligator Snapping Turtle has a thread of skin on the end of it's tongue which is used to lure unsuspecting fish right into it's mouth, before it rapidly snaps it's strong, sharp jaws shut.
As the Alligator Snapping Turtle spends much of it's time sitting around waiting for prey to pass, they use up very little oxygen and are therefore able to remain submerged in the thick mud for up to an hour. In fact, although females leave the water to lay their eggs in the sand, male Alligator Snapping Turtles may never venture out at all.
This formidable and prehistoric predator is easily able to defend and protect itself in the face of danger from other animals and therefore has no natural predators within it's native environment. However, the Alligator Snapping Turtle is preyed upon by people who hunt them for both their meat and their shells.
The Alligator Snapping Turtle can live for up to 100 years and is a slow-growing and maturing creature. Increased levels of hunting along with habitat loss or degradation throughout much of their natural range, has led to drastic declines in population numbers. The Alligator Snapping Turtle is now listed as a Threatened species and is protected in most areas.